Thursday, December 29, 2011

HOMELAND: Chris Colley's Five Stages of Grief

I have canceled all future planned writings about Homeland, as of a couple of days ago.  I realized that I must be going through The Five Stages of Grief as described in the K├╝bler-Ross model.  I'll describe them below, with my reactions.  I hope you enjoy what will likely be the last major writing I do in regards to the series.

Stage 1:

Denial:  They did not end what looked to be a spectacular season that way!  How can that be possible, based on what they were telling us throughout the entire first season??

Stage 2:

Anger:  I am so mad that they ended this season, this way, that I am going to write a huge series of posts containing massive amounts of spoilers to try to figure out where everything went wrong!

Stage 3:

Bargaining:  If I write these posts, I'll be able to explain where it went wrong, and I won't feel like I wasted my time.  I'm doing this to help the makers of the show, because I want it to get on the right track.  If I do this, surely the show will get back on track.

Stage 4:

Depression:  It's been more than a week since the season has wrapped.  I was so motivated to write those "Homeland:  This Is What Happens When You F With The Man" posts.   Now, I am just not motivated, and can't get geared up to write them.  It doesn't really matter what I think anyway...

Stage 5:

Acceptance:  Well, the season didn't end the way I wanted it to, but what seasons ever do?  I'm frequently disappointed by TV, and this show should definitely not be any different.  I'll watch some more episodes, next season, to see what they do, and if I don't like where they go, then I'll stop watching.  They can do what they want, and I can do what I want.  It's no big deal, it's their show, not mine.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chris Colley's TV Blog*'s 10 Lumps of Scripted TV Coal I Received And Watched In 2011 (Euphemism For 10 Worst, Because Worst Is Too Strong)

I gave you my 10 favorite shows, now it's time for me to tell you about 10 shows I was extremely disappointed in during 2011.  A lot of these shows were canceled, or are going to be canceled.  One will end up on the list just because of how the season ended.  Shame on them for that, and I hope this list doesn't bring back too many terrible flashbacks to those who have tried to forget them.  Being ranked number 1 on this list means I thought you were the worst of the worst.  Being ranked on this list doesn't mean I didn't watch every episode (or even that it was overtly terrible), it's just that I thought the shows could have been done a lot better.  However, some of these shows were overtly terrible, and yet I still couldn't avert my eyes.

Whitney (NBC)

Congratulations, Whitney Cummings, you are the weakest link, goodbye!  This was a show that had some good potential.  Unfortunately for it, it was taken over by Whitney and her gross boyfriend.  Seeing these two pretty unattractive people partake in role playing sex games for the first four episodes was enough to make me tune out forever.  I'm not sure I laughed even once at this show.  I think shows like this are what happens when egos get out of control.  I am sincerely hoping it has terrible ratings in its new time slot, so no one else has to be subjected to what I feel might possibly be the worst sitcom I have ever seen in my life.  Even The Ben Stiller Show (FOX) was better than this.

Charlie's Angels (ABC)

Seriously, what the hell was that?  If you make a show that is completely devoid of substance, no matter how cool it looks, it has no chance.  This show took a popular bubble gum TV show, with a series of successful movies that followed, and turned it into one of the most unwatchable pieces of crap I have seen in a long time.  ABC seems to be completely clueless when it comes to casting.  With even one compelling cast member, maybe it could have been saved.  Good riddance.

Prime Suspect (NBC)

For a solid month, I kept asking, "Why is this show still on TV?"  When looking at bad TV shows, this is a prime example of how you botch a show.  I think Peter Berg will ultimately lose a few of his golden boy points over at Universal, with this one.  If he had watched the ITV Prime Suspect, and forced the cast to watch that series, maybe it wouldn't have been such a colossal joke.  If they did watch it, then I am even more embarrassed with how this series turned out.  It got it wrong just about everywhere, with procedure being one of the most glaringly common problems.  The casting was brutal on this show, and shows how easy it is to make characters completely unlikable, just by how they're played.  Shame on the people behind this show, for not getting what they were doing wrong, and shame on NBC for not getting rid of it sooner.  This is an easy genre to get right, and these people did it so wrong.  The fact that I turned off a show that I was interested in, from the get go, before it was canceled, shows how wrong it really went.

The Event (NBC)

You didn't think this would get left off the list, did you?  This show was the most must see piece of crap I have ever seen.  Ask anyone who's seen it, and they will tell you they watched it to the end.  If you actually liked the show, however, I feel really really sorry for you.  They also have doctors that can treat the many issues you are likely to have.

State of Georgia (ABC Family) 

It pains me so much to have to write this, because I love me some Raven.  The main characters were cast very well, and even some of the side characters.  However, the vast majority of storylines and writing, in this show, were complete crap.  When Raven can't make your writing leap off the page, your show has no chance to be successful.  The true bright spot of the series was Loretta Devine's brilliant and sick portrayal of Aunt Honey.  The show was worth watching just to see what ridiculous things she would say.

Law & Order:  Los Angeles (LOLa, NBC)

Congratulations, Dick Wolf!  You managed to destroy the entire Law & Order franchise over the period of less than one year.  This show did such a great disservice to the franchise, and made me long for Criminal Intent to come back on NBC.  I was hoping we would get more of those episodes, but it died a painful death, as well.  NBC re-cast LOLa when it wasn't necessary, and then we were forced to see what could have been, when Skeet Ulrich's character rose from the dead during last summer's burn off.  Had NBC not made bad decisions with this show, in addition to many of the other laughable things about it, this show likely would have seen a second season.  I love watching shows that are shot in L.A., but they never figured out what they wanted the series to be. :(

Hawthorne (TNT)

I was asked by friend Magalie N. to write something up about this show.  My wife was already watching it, and I was pretty aware of what was going on.  Needless to say, this show was Hyperdrama on the fake.  Everything was just so over the top, and overwrought.  However, they had a mastery of how to make you want to watch the next episode, at the end of each previous episode.  For that, it was special.  You couldn't avert your eyes, no matter how much you wanted to.

Body of Proof (ABC)

This show is ending up on the list because it is never going to live up to the potential I saw in it, in the first season.  From teasing us with necessary casting changes, to having to watch all the women in this show wearing the tightest most unprofessional clothes they can find, to seeing goofy love interest type storylines, this show just has never gotten anything right.  If they had made the threatened changes, the show would have been able to move on into something better.  Instead, it's just the same old turd it always was.  For that, its reward, at the end of the season, will be cancellation.

The Big C (Showtime)

I didn't think it was possible to screw up such a great show.  However, it happened.  Season 1 was almost a masterpiece, for this series (minus the Jenny Bicks episodes), but season 2 was nearly an unmitigated disaster.  Everyone began to focus on nothing they should have, and the whole show just spiraled into total mediocrity.  Now that poor a-hole kid of Cathy's will have to deal with losing both parents next year.  I don't understand how they can feel good about where they've taken the show.  Season 1 frequently had me in tears, but season 2 only got me at the end, because of how much they bombarded us with in the final episode of the season.  It was predictable, but the final episode was handled in a touching way (only thanks to Darlene Hunt's amazing character writing skills), that gives me hope that next season will be worth watching.

Homeland (Showtime)

I also put this show on my 10 favorite shows of 2011.  You will see my rage vented over the next couple of weeks about this series.  The season had one of the most underwhelming endings I've ever seen for a TV show.  There were so many better directions they could have gone, but they took the easiest.  With the real death of Tom Walker, now we probably won't ever know what ticks behind our resident terrorists on the show.  It's rare something makes me as angry as this, but this did it.  I was happier with how Hawthorne ended, and it was equally ridiculous.  The makers of this show will never get the benefit of my doubt, again. They can't be trusted, but that doesn't mean I won't continue watching the show.  Even though I know this series will be nominated for numerous awards, I hope it doesn't win a single one of them.  In all honesty, it doesn't deserve to win anything, now that the writers completely sold out where the show could have gone.  Shame on the writers, and shame on Showtime.

There you have the "other" list of 10 shows, the one you don't really want to be on.  I hope it was enjoyable.  Thanks for reading.

Chris Colley's TV Blog*'s Ten Favorite Shows of 2011

Everyone loves doing best of lists at the end of the year.  In the case of this list, it's not a best of, it's just my 10 favorite shows of 2011.  It might include canceled shows, because, like the writers of Homeland, I'll just be making this up as I go along.

Person of Interest (CBS)

This is my favorite "leave your brain at the door" show I've seen in a long time. 

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

This series, outside of Rob Lowe, almost never disappoints.  Watch it.

Psych (USA)

I'm a latecomer to this show, but it is one of the most consistently entertaining shows I have ever seen.

Rizzoli & Isles (TNT)

I avoided this show like the plague because of Angie Harmon, but finally gave it a shot last summer.  It is an amazing show, with an exceptional cast.  You should be watching this show.

Burn Notice (USA)

If this were solely based on the summer season, this would be number 4 on the list, but the fall season was much lower in quality than we're used to.  Only because of that do I put it at number 5.

Franklin & Bash (TNT)

Wow, another show I never would have watched, if it weren't for this blog, ends up on the list.  Snarky, sarcastic, and ultimately always fun, this is must watch TV, if you are into that sort of thing.

Human Target (FOX)

Throughout its run, Human Target got a lot of stuff wrong, but it was always one of the most entertaining shows on television.  I loved it and still miss it, especially because of what a turd Terra Nova is.

Nurse Jackie (Showtime)

Showtime is often guilty of trying too hard with their shows.  This is the one show where that is not the case.  I'm pretty sure any directives of edginess are based on Showtime wanting other shows to have more of the spirit this show has.  If you like House, you have no excuse for not watching this show.

Alphas (Syfy)

I could easy have this show swap places with Human Target, because I think it's good enough to be ranked higher.  It's consistently fun, and I love every single character, on the show.  I am also looking forward to where it goes.  You gotta love any show where the crime solving "crew" is transported around in a minivan.

Homeland (Showtime)

Unfortunately, I have to put Homeland on my favorites, because it was, for at least five episodes of the season. However, with the cop out ending of the season, it's going to also end up on another list I'm creating.  It would be on any "best of" list I would create, but I will always put it at the bottom, because it left me so unsatisfied, based on where the series had apparently been heading.

Those were my 10 favorite shows of 2011.  There are so many that are honorable mentions, but the list was only 10.  If it had been my 5 favorite shows, I could have dropped Homeland.  Oh well, I guess I shouldn't have been thinking so shortsighted.  Thanks for reading.

My Network TV Scripted Mid-Season Thoughts On New TV Series Only (And Mostly Just Ones I Watch)

David S. inspired me to write this post, by something completely unrelated to what I'm about to write about.  I've decided to go and re-visit the things I wrote about this fall's new TV shows, for each of the networks to see how accurate (or inaccurate I have been).  It should be an interesting little journey, and I'll give my thoughts about how I think anything I'm watching is doing.

ABC (since looking at what I wrote about ABC's new shows was the inspiration for this blog post, I will do them first, thanks David S.!):

I wasn't jazzed about any new shows on ABC's fall schedule, so I just wrote some comedic quotes about most of them.  Some of the shows haven't aired, and some might not ever air.  However, it's relevant to re-visit them now.  I'll analyze each quote after I place it to let you know what I'm thinking now.  If you want to read the whole wrap up of ABC's last season, you can find it here:  2010-2011 TV SEASON WRAP UP: ABC, Like Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives) Sort Of Said, "You Got Work To Do" 

The ABC 2011-2012 New Shows:

 Apartment 23 (Not aired, no word on whether it will)

What I wrote last June:  So funny, I forgot to laugh. 

What I'm saying now:  Evidently, ABC has also forgotten to laugh, because it's still not on their mid-season schedule. 

 Charlie's Angels (Canceled)

What I wrote last June:  "They stopped giving me money for sequels, so I decided to make a TV show, of a TV show that was movies, and stuff."-Drew Barrymore

What I'm saying now:   Now they've stopped giving Drew money to do TV shows, because this one was canceled not soon enough after consistently disastrous ratings.  I hope we can now officially make this franchise die.

 Combat Hospital  (Probably canceled)

What I wrote last June:  We re-lived the 70s with Charlie's Angels, why not re-live the 80s with Combat Hospital.

What I'm saying now:  This was a summer show, so its ratings standards aren't supposed to be very high.  However, Prime Suspect reruns almost beat this show's season 1 finale.  Don't expect it to return.

 Good Christian Belles (Airing Sunday nights at 10pm ET, beginning March 4, 2012)

What I wrote last June:  I'm sure if we got a halfway decent dialect coach, our show would be hu-lair-eee-yuss.

What I'm saying now:  This show is on the mid-season schedule (in Pan Am's slot), under the title GCB.  Based on the trailer, I thought this show was going to be a half-hour sitcom.  It's an hour long dramedy?  Awwww helllllll nawwwwww!  We'll see if the audience agrees.  My initial prediction, from what I watched, is that this is DOA.  Let's see how I do.

 Last Man Standing (Airing, doing fine)

What I wrote last June:  "You finally gave up on your movie career, Tim?  Welcome back! Do you have Pam's number?"-Anonymous ABC Executive

What I'm saying now:  No word on whether that exec got Pam's number, but this looks like it will be picked up for a second season.  Tim Allen, once again, proves that half-hour sitcoms are where he should go when no one will put him in movies anymore, or when he needs to make some solid dolares.  I still chuckle when I think of Tim Allen, as Buzz Lightyear, in the Toy Story movies.  The fact that he had that part shows you how much fame he once had, because he never would have been cast in that part, today (Clooney probably would have been cast, today).

 Man Up! (Canceled)

What I wrote last June:  "Hey, remember when we did that show about the Geico cavemen?  I think we can really do better than that, by doing a show like those funny beer commercials."-Fired ABC Executive

What I'm saying now:  This show aired, and has been canceled (all 13 episodes got in the can, but it got yanked after 8 or 9 episodes).  It never was rated strong, though I heard it wasn't nearly as bad as it should have been.  No word on whether the executive was fired.

 Missing (Airing Thursday nights at 8pm ET, beginning March 15, 2012)

What I wrote last June:  A TV version of Liam Neeson's Taken, except it's the mom that's really driven!

What I'm saying now:  It will be on my DVR, but putting it in that slot might end up causing disaster for the show. 

Once Upon a Time (Airing, once great ratings taking a major dive over the last month)

What I wrote last June:  "Hey, you guys remember when that show Grimm came to pitch us?  That show looks good, maybe we made a mistake."-Fired ABC Executive

What I'm saying now:  I had no plans to watch this show, but I heard enough positive buzz to check it out.  It premiered to extraordinary ratings, but it has been settling down to earth for quite awhile.  We still have no idea where it will land.  As long as it stays above a 2.2 in the 18-49 demo (it's at a 2.9 right now), I expect it to get another season.  It's a decent show, nothing more, nothing less.  Grimm is looking like a sure bet to get picked up for a second season, and I like it a lot better than this one.  As long as this show's ratings don't keep falling, my quote will probably not be 100 percent accurate (if any of it is, anyway).

 Pan Am (Canceled)

What I wrote last June:  "Hey, you guys remember when that show The Playboy Club came to pitch us?  That show looks good, maybe we made a mistake."-Fired ABC Executive

What I'm saying now:  The ratings for this show started out in the stratosphere, but soon crashed and burned.  There was barely enough time for an in-flight meal, and you always had to keep your seat belt fastened.  The audience has spoken, for the last time.  Do not make serialized period dramas...period.

 Revenge (Airing, doing fine)

What I wrote last June:  "I am so glad we didn't pass on Revenge, after passing on those other two.  This has got to be our new Dynasty."-ABC Executive on suspension

What I'm saying now:  BOO-YA!  TWO PAIR!

 The River (Airing Tuesday nights at 9pm ET, beginning February 7, 2012)

What I wrote last June:  We are gonna find the next Lost, even if it kills us!

What I'm saying now:  Only you can prevent Lost clones, only you.

 Scandal (Not aired, no word whether it will)

What I wrote last June:  "Every once in awhile, you gotta take a chance with a show that has no chance of making it, just in case it does."-Future fired ABC Executive

What I'm saying now:  "Why take a chance?"-Dr. Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 Suburgatory (Airing, doing fine)

What I wrote last June:  "Whose idea was it to cast Jeremy Sisto as a lead in a situational comedy?  That person deserves a promotion!  This will surely be this year's Parker Lewis Can't Lose, I just know it."-ABC Executive

What I'm saying now:  A quote that was written in jest may end up being quasi-accurate.  To that, I say, "LOL"...LOL.
 Work It (Airing Tuesday nights at 8:30pm ET, beginning January 3, 2012)

What I wrote last June:  Bosom Buddies if it wasn't funny.  Bosom Buddies wasn't that funny.

What I'm saying now:  I predict this show will be off the air before the Super Bowl in February.  Good luck with that.  It will need it.

 Expedition Impossible (Aired last summer, who knows what will happen with it?)

What I wrote last June:  Let's take the two most popular reality shows on CBS, and put them together!

What I'm saying now:  And get one third the ratings!


We all know that last season for NBC was a disaster.  Well, guess what?  This season's been pretty much a disaster for them, as well.  I'm available for work, if NBC wants my help.  My slate will begin by canceling all reality TV, to bring this network back to the once great place it was.  I'm cheaper than you think, but worth more than you'll ever know. ;)  I didn't write quotes like I did for ABC, so I'll just try to pull out a relevant quote for each new show.  If you want to read the whole wrap up of NBC's last season, you can read it here:  2010-2011 TV SEASON WRAP UP: NBC, Now By Comcast

The NBC 2011-2012 New Shows (Only shows I decided to watch):

Up All Night (Airing, mediocre ratings, moves to Thursday nights at 9:30pm ET beginning January 12, 2012)

What I wrote last June:  I'm very lukewarm about Up All Night, as Will Arnett seems to drag every sitcom he's in into cancellation.  The preview also didn't look that funny, but I'm willing to give it one shot, to see if it's any good.

What I'm saying now:  I'm still very lukewarm about this show, and I'm curious to see how it will be rated when airing after The Office.  The bar is not very high for renewal, and it's about time they finally moved it.  It's not a good show, but it's gotten better very s-l-o-w-l-y, and Arnett has comfortably settled into playing the straight man, for the most part.

Free Agents (Canceled)

What I wrote last June:  I am very enthused about Free Agents.

What I'm saying now:  This show never lived up to expectations, and just wasn't very good.  I watched it until the short bitter end.

Whitney (Airing, moving to Wednesday nights at 8pm ET, beginning January 11, 2012)

What I wrote last June:  The Whitney show looks fairly funny, but many of the scenes from the preview had less than stellar comedic timing.  So, I think I might not like it, though I will give it one shot to impress me enough to stick around for a second viewing.

What I'm saying now:  The series had potential, but this is literally one of the worst sitcoms I have ever seen in my lifetime.  If you like this show, I am very disturbed by your tastes.  I think I got through four episodes that showed absolutely zero improvement potential, before not being able to take it anymore.  If you want a better Whitney show, watch 2 Broke Girls.  It doesn't make me laugh very often, but I do kind of enjoy it.  Whitney getting moved to Wednesday nights will likely spell disaster for it.  I think NBC is trying to bury it, which is probably a pretty good move.  It should be interesting to see those first new night ratings.

Prime Suspect (Canceled)

What I wrote last June:  I like the idea of Prime Suspect, but I don't really like Maria Bello, so the show will probably have to grow on me.  I will see if it does.

What I'm saying now:  It grew on me, all right, like something that would eventually cause your leg to need to get amputated.  This was one of the worst police procedurals I have ever seen.  It's even more of a shame when you factor in how good the series was that it was based on.  The original series first aired over 20 years ago.  It would be like going back 20 years, taking the mind sets of how things were back then, and applying those same things to today.  It just wasn't believable, and the procedure was terrible.  If you want to watch a great, fun, police procedural, watch The Closer (much more similar in tone, minus the humor, to the original Prime Suspect) or Rizzoli & Isles.  This was crap. 

Grimm (Airing, doing fine)

What I wrote last June:  When I read the premise for Grimm, I wasn't impressed.  When I saw the preview, I was impressed.  I can't believe NBC put this on Friday nights, especially since it looks quite expensive, and the storyline, from the preview, actually makes the show look like it could be really good.  There's also a strong possibility it's bad, because it was put on Friday night.  Networks don't put shows they think will be winners on Friday night.  That's where you send shows to die.  Chuck's final season will air in the slot right before Grimm, if you are looking for a practical example.

What I'm saying now:  I was right on the money, here.  I really enjoy this show, and it's looking very good for renewal.  I spent a lot of time harping on this show being on Fridays, but I think that might be the best place for it, as of right now.  With its numbers, on Fridays, it has a nearly 100 percent chance of being picked up for a second season.  On other nights, I'm not so sure it would get the numbers needed to stick around.


It's no surprise that CBS has ratings that stay on top.  When you don't make your programming freely available after the original air date, people will decide to watch it live, or always make sure it's never in conflict on the DVR.  2 Broke Girls has caused a lot of TV watching drama during the football season, for me, so I can speak from experience.  This will follow the same idea of the NBC version, because I only wrote about shows I was going to watch.  If you want to read the whole wrap up of CBS's last season, you can read it here:  2010-2011 TV SEASON WRAP UP: CBS, I'll Be Seeing You Next Year 

The CBS 2011-2012 New Shows (Only shows I decided to watch):

What I wrote last June:  After watching all five of the show previews, I am going to try Unforgettable, Person of Interest, and possibly How to Be a Gentleman.  I'm lukewarm about How to Be a Gentleman, but there are enough good comedic casting choices that I'm willing to check it out, at least once.  The same goes for the other two, I think they look pretty good, but I'm not super jazzed about either of them.  If they're weak, with little potential, coming out of the gate, I'll just skip them after watching the first episode.

What I'm saying now:  As you can see, I ended up condensing all of the new shows I was planning on watching into one little area.  Unforgettable is just a standard "super cop" police procedural.  It's pretty good, but not great.  It's a million times better than Prime Suspect, which shared a lot of characteristics with Unforgettable.  It appears to be headed toward cancellation, and if it is canceled, I'm pretty sure it will be a long time before we see another "super cop" police procedural on network TV.  In this post, you will see that I said this genre is pretty much dead (outside of maybe The Closer, which is in its last season).  The best example of turning that particular genre of police procedural on its head is Rizzoli & Isles.  The reason Rizzoli & Isles works is because that's more of a relationship police procedural, as opposed to a super cop police procedural, even though it shares many of the characteristics of that genre.

As for Person of Interest, if you know me, you know I love this show.  It's my favorite new show of the TV season, and it's not close.  F-U Homeland!  If you're not watching this show, you're missing out on some of the most fun television I've seen in awhile.  It's a serious show that does not take itself seriously, and that's probably what makes it so great.  It will probably uniformly be passed over for awards season, but I think it shouldn't be.  It's a show people are going to look back on and wonder why they weren't watching it in the first season.  Now if they could just work on Caviezel's whispering problem...

How to Be a Gentleman was the funniest new sitcom you never saw, this season.  The spirit behind it was fun, but it couldn't find an audience.  It was canceled faster than you can type How to Be a Gentleman.  If it were on any other network, outside of FOX, it likely would have been a hit.  I bet the guy who starred in the show will get another shot (for writing/creating) somewhere else, because it hit a lot of great notes.  RIP to a pretty good sitcom that had more in common with the classics than what you see today.

I'll also get in a little word about 2 Broke Girls, here.  I hemmed and hawed, but ultimately watch the show.  It's got more dirty jokes than those two comedians who rolled around in mud, and ended up talking about it incessantly in their Vaudeville routines.  Sometimes it makes me laugh, most of the time it doesn't.  In most good sitcoms, you don't laugh all the time, though it helps.  I'm interested enough in the storyline, and this is the number 1 new sitcom, this season, if not the number 1 new scripted TV show, this season.  I don't think it's cast or acted particularly well, but it does a good enough job to stay on my DVR.


Can I just take a moment to say, "AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"  Wait a second, "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"  Okay, I'm done.  If you want to read the whole wrap up of FOX's last season, you can read it here:  2010-2011 TV SEASON WRAP UP: FOX, You Fail!

There were only two new shows I wrote about last June, and they were Terra Nova and Alcatraz.  I didn't say anything about how I thought they would be, or what I thought they would do.  Terra Nova is among the blandest of the bland TV shows for that genre.  The ratings have been terrible (for a show of this magnitude and promotion), and there is no way this series should see a second season.  They may wait until January, to see how Alcatraz premieres, before officially showing Terra Nova the portal (the only way it is saved is if both Alcatraz and Touch bomb).  Still, if you liked this show, I feel sorry for you.  It was just good enough to watch, and not bad enough to not watch.  The words "Terra Nova" should be in the dictionary next to the word failure.  I hope Alcatraz is a lot better than this series was (is?).

For next year's version of the wrap ups, I'll try to remember to write something about every new show on each of the four major networks, so I can break it down like I did ABC.  This post suffered a little bit, due to me not doing that.  In the immortal words of Maxwell Smart, "Uhhhh, sorry about that."  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HOMELAND Episode 1: This Is What Happens When You F With The Man

Do you remember that great scene with the Corvette outside the house in The Big Lebowski?  Well, if you do, and even if you don't, that scene is my inspiration for what I'm going to do in this post about Homeland.  I had originally planned to do scene by scene dissections of the series, but after Sunday's season 1 finale, I was so disappointed that I just don't have the willpower to do them.  The good news for you (or not) is that this riled me up so bad that I'm going to go through and point out every suspicious activity, character motivation, and plot hole I can think of as it relates to what happened at the end of the season.

With that said, I think it's pretty obvious that I'm going to be giving away massive spoilers here.  If you have a problem with that, go somewhere else, some place where people love what they did with the finale.  You won't find love here for how the season ended.  To me, it was one giant cop out, and if these 12 posts go well, you will clearly see why.  Hopefully there will be a lot of humor, and a lot of knowledge dropped.  One thing's for sure, spoilers will be dropped.  Just like what I said about Falling Skies, you were warned.

Here's how this is going to work.  For each episode I'm going to compile a list of what I feel are the most significant parts of the series, so far.  I haven't decided what all that will be, but it will probably be a lot.  This will be numbered, and relatively short (in Chris Colley terms).  Each episode will have a post written in similar fashion.  It will probably take a couple of weeks to do, but I should have the first two episodes up fairly quickly, since I can just go through my two episode dissections for the information.  I hope you will enjoy them, even though I am writing these more out of rage than love.  Spoilers?  Don't like them?  Leave now...

Episode 1-The Goods

1.  CHARACTER:  CIA Case Officer Carrie Mathison disobeys a direct order from David Estes, her boss, while in Iraq.  Carrie, throughout the season, will do whatever it takes to get what she wants.  She's a loose cannon, and has no respect for authority.

2.  PLOT:  An imprisoned terrorist whispers something in Carrie's ear after she promises to protect his family if he gives up information.  What he whispered was that an American POW had been turned.  The cat and mouse game "begins" when we first find out that Sgt. Nicholas Brody, a missing POW, gets rescued.  We later find out that Tom Walker, who had appeared to be killed by Brody, is also out there and is a turned terrorist.  The informant didn't lie, an American POW was turned, it was just two of them.

3.  CHARACTER:  In Carrie's home office, we see a large timeline of events, on her wall.  These documents are classified.  She is reckless with classified and sensitive information over and over in this season.  We also see that she has been out all night, as she does rudimentary hygiene techniques.  She is probably a low grade substance abuser, and is definitely into one night stands, as she will almost have one at the end of this episode, and has one with the terrorist Brody in the back of a car.

4.  PLOT:  Sgt. Nicholas Brody was found and rescued by a Delta Force mission.  He had been MIA and presumed dead since 2003.  He is treated as a hero, but that darn Brody is a terrorist, even though he doesn't really think he is.

5.  CHARACTER:  Carrie is always late, and ain't worth the wait.  However, she knows everything she's supposed to, because that's how she rolls.

6.  CHARACTER/PLOT:  Carrie meets with Saul Berenson, who is her babysitter in the CIA, because of her causing an international incident in Iraq, when she bribed a guard to talk to a terrorist that was not being held by the USA.  Saul is also her mentor, and she will routinely confide in him.  Throughout the season, lots of clues were sent out to the audience that Saul might be some kind of double agent.  None of this was paid off.  Saul will also alternate between thinking Carrie is crazy, being angry with her, being disgusted by her, wanting to put her in prison, and he ultimately mostly believes what she says.  He hates her methods, but she does get the job done, in his opinion.  He does sell her out pretty bad in the season finale, when she calls to tell him that Brody is going to blow up the bunker.  Saul thinks she is crazy, tells her he'll take care of it, and then asks that she is contained.  Saul is a troubled man, who spends way too much time on the job.  It is his flaw.  Carrie is also his flaw.  As for the plot aspect, Carrie tells Saul that an American POW has been turned.  He finds this pretty unbelievable, but she is right.  In fact, two POWs have been turned, Brody and Corporal Tom Walker.  Carrie has no interest in telling her boss, Estes, about this, (Saul certainly doesn't have any interest in this either) and this is my first major problem with the series.  She wouldn't have to tell Estes that she suspects Brody, but she should have told him what she was told about an American POW being turned.  He could then draw his own conclusions (and ignore them, as he ignores nearly every important piece of information he is given).  Still, he's a smart man.

7.  PLOT:  Carrie asks Saul to authorize surveillance on the terrorist Brody.  We know this is a good idea, because Brody is a terrorist, but Saul says that will never happen, that Estes would never approve it.  So, Carrie gets angry and decides to fund an illegal surveillance operation, that breaks approximately 12 Federal Laws, herself.  Again, she does not take no for answer.  She does what she does.

8.  PLOT:  Brody, the terrorist, is going to be the government's poster boy for the War On Terror.  Ha ha ha, get it?  They thought he would help get out the word that the terrorists are still out there.  He would have, if he hadn't been such a chicken loving his daughter and stuff.  After all, his plan was to do his thang, with something he wore on his chest, with the VP and a whole bunch of important Defense Department people.  Yeah, it didn't happen.  So, for now, Brody will be the "positive" face for the War On Terror, as opposed to the terror they are warring on, which is what he really is.

9.  PLOT:  Captain Mike Faber (the terrorist Brody's best friend) is sleeping (this is a euphemism for boinking) with Brody's wife, Jessica, when Brody calls to tell her he is alive.  Awkward.  Love triangle ensues, and things do not go well.

10.  CHARACTER:  Jessica goes home to tell the Brody kids (daughter and son) the news.  One is a bit younger than the other.  The older one, Dana, is a problem child, and is smoking a bong when Jessica arrives home.  The son, Chris, tells his mom that he tried to get Dana to stop, but we all know he is really more interested in video games and ka-ra-te than anything else.  Oh yeah, Jessica hasn't told the kids about "Uncle Mike" being in a relationship with her.  Dana's smarter than that, and knows what's up.  Chris, well he seems kind of dumb and into video games a little too much.  Jessica has about as good a poker face as Madeleine Stowe on Revenge.

11.  PLOT:  On the flight home from Germany, Brody learns his life is about to be turned into a media circus.

12.  PLOT:  While everyone is out to meet Brody, Carrie's team ($1000 a day is bare bones), sets up the illegal surveillance package inside Brody's house.  We also learn that Carrie isn't good at dealing with the people she has taking enormous risks to help her out.  Carrie hates the people above her, and hates the people below her.  The good news is she loves her some her.

13.  SUSPICIOUS:  Major General Trujillo is on the phone with Estes, and calls him by his first name, denoting familiarity.  Estes uses the words "like a hero", not "hero".  You could make the case that he knows Brody is a terrorist, but doesn't really care, since the VP is all about some Brody.  The VP is very lucky he didn't end up all over Brody, if you get what I'm sayin'...ha ha ha.

14.  CHARACTER:  As Jessica prepares to re-introduce herself to Brody, we find her "acting" in a mirror.  She has no idea how to talk to her own husband, so she has to practice.  Acting is a pretty big theme with her early on in Brody's return.  Dana is really the mama in the household, as she has to get everyone in line.  She's a mama with a drug problem, but she's still the "mama", because Jessica's always busy getting busy with "Uncle Mike".

15.  SUSPICIOUS:  The family gets to see Brody for a minute, in an awkward interaction.  Then the terrorist hating, Brody loving VP (wait, what?) shows up to tell the terrorist Brody what an honor it is to meet him (since I guess he had always wanted to meet a hero terrorist).  Brody has a hard time making eye contact with him, because he thinks the VP is the devil for killing a young boy (among many other kids with a drone strike) that Brody had bonded with in Abu Nazir's (the big terrorist) compound.  The VP, among others, is Brody's ultimate target in the season finale.  He came strapped, but he couldn't pull the trigger, he couldn't pull the trigger.

16.  ISSUES:  Brody has some PTSD stuff going on.  Bright lights bug him, and they comfort him.  What is the deal, man?  Make up your mind.  I guess they tortured him with bright lights, but then he was converted by the bright sunlight to Islam.  We see this PTSD motif as Brody is walking to a podium at his welcome ceremony.

17.  CHARACTER:  Brody seems pretty comfortable in these type of situations, and appears to know how to work a crowd.  We also get to see that both "Uncle Mike" and Jessica are unhappy with Brody's return, and show a lot of shame.  By the end of the season, the love triangle is a real let down.  We were forced to watch it stew over and over for around 6 episodes, and then it just disappears into thin air, because Brody gave a beat down to "Uncle Mike", and Jessica wants to have a real life with the terrorist Brody, who doesn't have much planned in life, but dying, and soon.  If only he had pulled the trigger...if...

18.  ISSUES:  We find out that Carrie is taking some kind of mysterious blue pill that is hidden in her aspirin bottle.  There's no mystery anymore, it's Clozapine, an anti-psychotic drug used as a last resort for schizophrenic and bipolar patients, due to its tremendously bad side effects.  Claire Danes has said she is playing it bipolar, because she probably didn't want to play it schizophrenic.  At any rate, we now know that Carrie has mental illness, and she's lying about it to the CIA.  This will play an important part, as everyone thinks she is crazy, when she tries to tell them Brody is a terrorist.  She's what I will call the insane truth teller.

19.  SUSPICIOUS:  Captain Mike Faber is in Military Intelligence.  Brody seems surprised that Faber stayed in the military.  When telling Brody he is in Military Intelligence, he says "me of all people".  That intimates that he wasn't down with Military Intelligence, when Brody knew him, but has somehow become a part of it.  This was never mentioned again, although Faber is considered Brody's commanding officer.  Faber tells Brody the meeting is for business, as the CIA wants to do a follow up de-brief with him.

20.  PLOT:  While Carrie watches Brody's return home on TV, while waiting for the surveillance to be put online, she calls Saul and tells him to get her into Brody's de-brief.  They argue about it, and Saul asks if she will behave herself.  While this is going on, there is audible feedback on Carrie's end from the surveillance system going online.  Saul makes Carrie promise to behave herself in the de-brief.  We all know this won't happen, and I'm pretty sure Saul knows it won't happen either.  It's probably his half-hearted way of telling her to shake things up.  Saul apparently does notice the feedback, and knows that Carrie is up to something.  He will shortly discover her surveillance.

21.  WEIRD:  Carrie becomes engrossed in mundane surveillance.  Eventually the Brodys want to have sex, and Carrie decides to watch.  This is highly inappropriate, and you will learn, by the end of the season, that Carrie somehow has managed to fall in love with the terrorist Brody (in the immortal words of Mos Def, "Wowwwww").  I guess she likes the way he basically rapes his wife or something.  Brody is not adjusted, and cannot show intimacy with his wife.  Prior to this scene, while Brody was in the shower, we saw Jessica practicing what she would do.  That's the second time we've seen that.

22.  SUSPICIOUS:  Jessica wants Brody to have some wine.  Brody is having a hard time accepting it.  Devout Muslims don't drink alcohol, so we can get the idea that Brody is now a Muslim.  He is, he is!

23.  BORING:  Love triangle is obviously part of the problem here.

24.  SUSPICIOUS:  During Carrie's surveillance the phone rings twice.  Both times Jessica answers.  Both times the caller hangs up.  They milk this, but I'm fresh out of cows.  It was Brody's sniper partner, Tom Walker's (other terrorist), wife.  She claimed to be uncomfortable talking to Jessica, because Jessica made her feel bad about moving on from Walker, and marrying someone else.  Vot ah heepocreet she ees, ay?

25.  PLOT:  Carrie oversleeps and is late for the de-brief.  She re-iterates how important it is to make sure they're there for first contact.  Virgil (surveillance guy) assures her that they will be there.  We see Carrie take another blue pill, and head off to work.

26.  SUSPICIOUS:  Carrie does not play nice with Brody in the de-brief.  When Brody mentions a particular name (Zayyadi sp?), both Carrie and Estes seem surprised.  Carrie proceeds to show him a picture of Abu Nazir, asking if that is the man, and Brody says it is not.  She asks if Brody has met Nazir.  He tells her no, because he is a liar.  He has met Nazir, and is involved in an active terror plot with him.  We also find out that a prisoner of war loses value after 72 hours, and Carrie wants to know why Brody retained value.  We will soon find out that Brody retained value because he turned, and "killed" the unkillable Tom Walker (who he killed again at the end of season 1).  All this appears to have happened pretty early in Brody's captivity.

27.  PLOT HOLE:  Why did Brody and Walker turn so quickly?  They could have spent the whole season letting us know what built them into the terrorists they became, to give us the payoff we received in the finale.  Brody thinks he killed Walker very early in his captivity, but it hasn't even been hinted at why he was willing to do this, and especially so early in his captivity.  Instead, we are led to believe that Brody's whole reason for becoming a terrorist is because of the bonding he had with Nazir's son, and the subsequent U.S. cover up of the attack that killed him.  There would be a whole lot more to it than this, kids.  It also wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of why Tom Walker did what he did.

28.  CHARACTER:  Brody is a pathological, and convincing, liar.  I won't ruin all of his moments, as we will see them soon enough in this post.  At any rate, you almost can't believe a single word he says, and probably should look at every important thing he says as if it is a lie.  When Dana talks him down from blowing up the bunker, his preference was to not answer at all, as opposed to lying.  When he doesn't want to tell a lie, he typically will evade the question, or change the subject.

29.  CHARACTER:  Jessica and Dana have another fight about Dana's attendance at a barbecue.  Jessica tells her that they need to make it work between them, because things are different now.  Again, Jessica is acting, as opposed to living.

30.  CHARACTER:  Brody lies, and tells Jessica that he is still at Langley, when he is in a limousine.  This is his second overt lie.  He is going to a meeting with Walker's wife, even though the tension built in the scene is that he's going to meet a potential terrorism contact.

31.  CHARACTER BACKSTORY:  In a Saul and Estes walk and talk, we learn that Estes has a real problem with Carrie's temperament, and steamroller approach to doing her job.  He says that he knows she can do the job, but he hates her methods (she is on probation after nearly being kicked out of the CIA).  Saul feels the same way, but enables her.  Estes is the non-enabling version of Saul.  We also learn that Saul has a blind spot for Carrie, and we learn that Estes used to have one for her, as well, one that resulted in his divorce.  We are also told that this will end badly for both Carrie and Saul.  So far, it's ended badly for Carrie (even though she unknowingly prevented Brody's attack), but it hasn't ended badly for Saul.  I guess his dark days are still coming.

32.  PLOT:  During the conversation with Saul, Estes wants to know if Carrie's up to something.  Saul tells him that he's not aware of anything.  Yes, Carrie's up to something, doing illegal surveillance on Brody.  Estes is a wise man, who never follows through on his wisdom if we are to believe what happened in season 1.

33.  PLOT:  Brody meets with Helen Walker, Tom Walker's wife, in the meeting Carrie wanted to be at, hoping it was Brody's contact.  She asks what happened to Walker, and Brody, after trying to deflect her away from an answer, tells her that he was beaten to death.  She asks if he was there when Walker was killed.  Brody tells her no, even though we will later find out that Brody "killed" Walker.  This is again, a lie.  Brody is on a roll, three lies in three scenes is a big deal.

34.  PLOT:  Virgil confronts Carrie about the blue pill (Clozapine), and wants to know if he's risking everything for a crazy person.  She is theoretically insane, but she's also a truth teller, as she was right about Brody all along, even after second guessing herself, eventually.  Realizing that Virgil might want out, Carrie basically blackmails him saying that he can't stop now, because he's in it up to his neck.  She's telling him that if she goes down, he goes down too.  So, Virgil continues surveillance with her.

35.  PLOT:  Carrie returns home to find Saul sitting in front of her surveillance.  After some harsh words, and sarcasm, we find out that Carrie just doesn't want us to get hit again, that she can't let that happen.  Saul asks her if she has anything suggesting Brody is what she thinks he is.  She tells him she doesn't, and Saul tells her to make sure she brings her lawyer down in the morning, because she's going to need one.  Saul also tells her he understands why she did it, but that he doesn't think a Grand Jury will.  At this point, Carrie tries to seduce Saul in hopes of getting him to back off to let her continue.  Saul says, "What the f*** are you doing?", with a shocked look on his face, Carrie backs away, ashamed, and Saul leaves.  The implication is that Saul is one big softie toward Carrie.  If he really wanted her to back off, he would have taken her in right then and there.  Instead, he manages to give her one more night full of time.  Good thing for her, she will find something that convinces him to let her continue.

36.  CHARACTER:  The scene above demonstrates more of Carrie's use them up and spit them out mentality.  The only person who can be "trusted" with what she says no longer can stomach the idea of being around her.  She lied to him about what she was doing, and then she tried to bribe him to keep it quiet.  Losing Saul as a confidant would put Carrie completely on an island inside the CIA.  The good news for her is that Saul really likes her, and may be keeping her close to learn what she knows. 

37.  PLOT:  Carrie does not take what's going to happen well.  We see her take another Clozapine pill, the first time we have seen her take two in one day (against recommendation?  I don't feel like doing any research).  She goes to a bowl on her dresser, and takes out a "wedding" ring and puts it on.  We saw her deposit this ring into the bowl in her character introduction.  She then tries on a bunch of different party clothes, and leaves.  If she's going to jail tomorrow, she's gonna have fun tonight.  This behavior is likely not out of the ordinary for her, like it's some kind of compulsion, I'm willing to guess.  She likes drankin' and she likes casual sex, even though her life is filled with paranoia about terrorism.  She won't even take slight risks in regards to whether someone could be a terrorist, but she takes life threatening risks with her own body.

38.  BORING:  The barbecue love triangle with Brody, Jessica, and "Uncle Mike" pops up.  That dumb Chris basically tells his father that "Uncle Mike" has been around a lot.  Brody isn't stupid, and sort of puts two and two together.  This is probably the third or fourth time he has been a little suspicious that Mike is having a relationship with his wife, and is the second time dumb Chris has said something that makes Brody suspicious (when Brody first arrives home, noticing the paint job changed, Chris happily reveals that "Uncle Mike's" brother painted it for them).  I know he's just a kid, but he really should be smarter than this.

39.  CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:  Carrie goes to a jazz bar, and we see what she does at night.  She's flirting with some random guy, and sees Brody on a TV screen, in a news recap of the welcome ceremony.

40.  SUBTLE PLOT DROP:  The guy Carrie is talking to says that someone out there is probably looking at Brody thinking he would have political prospects.  Yes, this is true.  Elizabeth Gaines, a power broker, who was assassinated by Tom Walker in the finale does see gold in Brody.  The VP also sees this gold, and helps convince Brody to run for Representative (another Representative is disgraced in a sex scandal, and they want Brody to replace him) later in the series.  The people in Brody's district can't get a break, I'd hate to be represented by either of those guys.  Is this what they will put as his identifier, on TV programs if he is elected?:

Sgt. Nicholas Brody (D-Terrorist, Virginia)

41.  PLOT:  After being asked if she wants to get a table by her suitor, Carrie starts watching the jazz band play.  She notices the fingers of all the players.  Then, she magically looks back at the TV, and notices that Brody is rhythmically moving his fingers, in what she thinks might be a code.  Later, after Carrie and Brody's sex and alcohol fueled weekend (wait, what?), Brody tells her that he was moving his fingers counting his prayer beads.  Is this true?  It's plausible, but Brody is a pathological liar, so I wouldn't believe anything he says, or at least not take it at face value.  This finger code is the evidence she wants to present to Saul that Brody is up to something.

42.  CHARACTER:  Remember what I said about Carrie's reckless behavior.  She drinks and drives over to Saul's house.  This will not be the only time she does this in season 1.

43.  PLOT:  Carrie goes and wakes Saul up, in the middle of the night.  Saul is very unhappy to see her, and is basically just indulging her, to get her to go away.  After finally convincing Saul that there may be something here, she asks him if she's still going to jail.  He tells her "not just yet".  She still hasn't gone to jail at the end of the first season (well, not for more than a few hours).  Good ol' Carrie never really gets legally punished (even though everyone in the series beats her down, mentally, causing her to want to go for Electroconvulsive Therapy at the end of the season finale) for her many illegal and bad actions.  The tapes were sent to a Crypto team, and they couldn't find anything in the hand movements.  There is no code, it's most likely that Brody was doing prayer bead behavior.

44.  PLOT:  At the end of the episode, we find Brody out on a hard jog in the morning.  We get to see his lies revealed, and find out that he was the one beating Walker, with Abu Nazir encouraging him to hit Walker harder.  After the beating is over, Brody collapses into Nazir's arms, crying.  We then see Brody stop jogging, and he turns and faces the Capitol Building.  This is his target, in more ways than one.  Brody is a terrorist, even though, all season, they will try to make you second guess what is really obvious, even from the first episode.


Brody lies:  3
Jessica acting:  3
Carrie takes Clozapine:  3
Carrie disobeys direct orders:  3
Carrie engaging in reckless behaviors:  at least 3
Open plot holes:  1
Potentially suspicious behaviors by characters that can be taken at more than face value:  4

I'll end this piece with a screwed up version of a famous quote from the TV series, House.  Thanks for reading.


Monday, December 19, 2011

HOMELAND Dissections: Encouragement Needed

After last night's season finale of Homeland (Showtime, check On Demand listings), I was left with a pretty sour taste in my mouth about this series.  I am right back to where I was when the plot twist happened in episode 7.  The season finale was an extremely well done episode, for the most part, but the payoff was lacking.  We were basically told that everything is pretty much straightforward with what we're seeing.  That doesn't mean this is really the case, but, based on that episode, I think it's much safer to assume that what we're seeing is what we get.  The only thing you can really speculate about now is who the bad guys are inside of the government. 

Over the last couple of weeks, the show was must watch TV, but this ending made me wonder why I'm watching the show (just like how I felt at the end of episode 7).  What's amazing to me is that the episode was exceptionally well done, in most of it, but having it end up where it did just fell flat, for me.  My guess is that most people's thoughts about this show will be based on what side of the aisle they're on.  This show, as of right now, just appears to be being used for propaganda purposes, against ending the War On Terror, and that's the worst place this show could have ever gone.  I'll tune into a couple of episodes next season, to see what they do, but, as of this writing, I'm not excited about the show anymore.  I certainly will never give it the benefit of the doubt, again.  Based on what I heard about what they're planning for season 2 (they have no idea what they're doing, yet), I am not confident they are not just making it up as they go along.  The only potential positive that could come out of my dissections is if the writers read them, and decide to begin plugging the gaping plot holes, or use them to look for other twists.

President Obama has listed this as one of the shows he watches.  I wonder what he thinks about what the show is telling him.  Regardless, the show is practically a farce anyway, due to the suspension of disbelief we are forced to use every week, in regards to Carrie, and how things operate in regards to the CIA.

Unless I get at least 10 likes (I'm negotiable), below, I am canceling writing my dissections of Homeland, because of how the season ended.  It will likely take me 120 hours total to write those, and I don't want to expend that amount of time writing dissections for a series that we were just shown should be taken at a relatively face value, unless I receive a lot of encouragement.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Evidently, A Lot Of Other People Hate Her Teenage Daughter, Too...

This is just a quick post to let you know that I Hate My Teenage Daughter (FOX, Wednesdays, 9:30pm ET) is very likely to get canceled, and probably pretty soon.  A few weeks ago, I wrote that the series didn't premiere strongly, and that I would be keeping a close watch on the ratings.  To me, the verdict is in.  This show is done.  It might last awhile longer, but it won't be back next season.  You can write "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" on a piece of paper, take it to the bank, hand it to a teller, and social services will be showing up to arrest you soon, since no one appears to know or care about the FOX series I Hate My Teenage Daughter

A bloodbath should be coming soon at FOX.  Terra Nova's ratings are terrible, and it is my understanding that the season (series?) finale is next week.  For any of the 7 or 8 Terra Nova fans out there, you better strongly hope both Alcatraz and Touch are not successful.  If either of those series do even remotely better than Terra Nova, there is zero chance Terra Nova will be on the schedule next season.  What makes me saddest about Terra Nova is that Human Target and Lie To Me were canceled, so this series could be made.  Both those shows (which were among the most entertaining I watched on a weekly basis), at the end of their runs, had higher ratings than Terra Nova does now.  If FOX wants to hire me as an exec, I'd be happy to work there.  My first official change would be moving competition shows to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.  Make it happen, people, even if you don't want to hire me. 

I Hate My Teenage Daughter Premiere ratings:

6.80 million Overall Viewers
2.8/7 in the 18-49 Demo

People Hate Her Teenage Daughter show's most recent ratings:

5.06 million Overall Viewers
1.8/5 in the 18-49 Demo

Stick a fork in it.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Message To Those Who Are Interested In My Homeland Episode Dissections

I just wanted to let those of you who care know that I have not forgotten about these.  My plan is to continue writing them once the first season ends next week.  That will give me plenty of time to do them, before season 2 rolls around.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fall 2011-2012 Canceled Scripted TV Shows List (Big 4 Networks Only)

Here's where I'll put all of the scripted TV shows that have been canceled, or effectively canceled, on network TV for the Fall 2011-2012 TV Season.  I hope it proves useful.  This may eventually turn into the place where I will also place official renewals, but that's a long way away, and not particularly interesting to me (except for the shows I watch).

Canceled Or Effectively Canceled Scripted TV Shows in Fall 2011-2012 TV Season:

1.  The Playboy Club (NBC)
2.  Free Agents (NBC)
3.  Charlie's Angels (ABC)
4.  How To Be A Gentleman (CBS)
5.  Prime Suspect (NBC)
6.  Pan Am (ABC)
7.  Man Up! (ABC)
8.  Allen Gregory (FOX)
9.  Work It (ABC)-This was updated 1/2/2012.  I know it hasn't aired yet, but I just can't help myself. ::Giggle::
10. The Firm (NBC)
11. Terra Nova (FOX)
12. I Hate My Teenage Daughter (FOX)-Effectively canceled by being moved to the summer.
13. Bent (NBC)-This was updated 3/22/2012, shortly after the ratings for the first episodes came out.  It's getting canceled, no doubt about it.
14. Breaking In (FOX)-Pulled from planned schedule, effective immediately, 4/12/2012.
15. Best Friends Forever (NBC)
16. Alcatraz (FOX)
17. The Finder (FOX)
19. A Gifted Man (CBS)
20. Awake (NBC)
21. Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC)
22. Harry's Law (NBC)
23. GCB (ABC)
24. Missing (ABC)
25. The River (ABC)
26. CSI: Miami (CBS)
27. Unforgettable (CBS)
28. NYC 22 (CBS)
29. Rob (CBS)
30. Napoleon Dynamite (FOX)

Animation is not on my radar, so I don't do official reports on that kind of programming.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Wednesday November 30, 2011 Premiere Ratings Note

Last night, I Hate My Teenage Daughter premiered on FOX.  The episode had what I would call mediocre ratings.  It had a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo, and only 6.84 million overall viewers.  It lost a lot of viewers off of its The X Factor lead in.  The 2.8 is a relatively solid number, but, in a night of reruns, and as a premiere, it's not a good sign.  I'll keep an eye on the ratings for next week's episode, but if you see it drop below a 2.2, I'll flag it as being ready to go into the cancellation bin.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HOMELAND (Showtime, Sundays, 10pm ET): Episode 2 Scene By Scene And Character Dissection

For some reason, people actually clicked on my episode 1 dissection of Homeland.  No one made any comments, positive or negative, so I guess it is safe to continue on to the next episode.  I have seen episode 8, and there was no incredibly groundbreaking information shared, that has made me re-think writing these.  Each week could bring a development that will make me want to stop, but I'll go ahead and do the dissection of episode 2, in hopes that nothing dramatic will happen in episode 9.

This post is likely to include a lot of spoilers, for episodes that are after this one, so if you don't want your viewing experience ruined, I suggest you stop reading now.  If you would like to read the episode 1 dissection, you can see it here.

HOMELAND (Showtime, Sundays, 10pm ET): Episode 1 Scene By Scene And Character Dissection

I warn you, these posts are going to be very long, due to how in depth I am making these dissections.  If lots of words scare you, these posts are probably not for you.  I hope episode 2 proves to be a fruitful journey on the way to discovering what this series is really all about.

Scene 1-Presumably Afghanistan Brody flashback

In the last episode, we were told that Brody was transferred to Afghanistan during some point of his captivity, so I am placing the location as Afghanistan, even though it is not stated overtly.

We begin the scene with a relatively clean shaven Brody apparently digging a grave wherever he is captured.  We are shown that Brody has dried blood on his hands, and he is singing "Marines' Hymn" under his breath, while digging.  Brody takes a brief break from digging, and points his eyes toward Corporal Tom Walker being dragged by two men, toward him.  Brody begins breathing extremely deep and heavily.  The dead Tom Walker is dumped into the grave, and Brody is removed from the grave by his captors.  As the captors turn him around to look at the grave, a gun is revealed, and is pointed at the back of Brody's neck.  He, defiantly, begins to sing "Marines' Hymn", again.  Eventually, the gun is fired (not seen), into the back of Brody's head, and we cut to a shot of Carrie jumping awake, in front of her surveillance.  Brody has also jumped awake.

As it was a dream, it's very hard to interpret what is real and what is not.  We can probably assume that Brody did have to dig Walker's grave, but that is probably the only real thing that happened.  It also serves the purpose of letting us know that Brody definitely has PTSD.

Scene 2-The Brody house/Carrie's home surveillance

The scene begins with Brody awakening from a night terror, in the daytime, to only him in the bed.  Carrie watches Brody, as he begins to sort through his dream.  Brody breaks down into tears, while Carrie is watching.

Scene 3-The Brody house/Carrie home surveillance

Jessica is in the kitchen making breakfast.  Brody appears at the frame of the kitchen, and is staring at Jessica, who doesn't notice him there, right away.  She looks slightly startled, as she notices him, and asks him if he wants coffee.  Jessica then yells at the kids to come get their breakfast, and that they're going to be late.  We also see Carrie watching this scene.  Brody walks up behind Jessica, and she is visibly disturbed at his touch.  He tells her to slow down, but she continues to move at a fast pace.  Brody stares down at her, thinking about what to say, and says, "It happened again, didn't it?"  Jessica tells him that, at around 4am, he was yelling something, outside, in Arabic, over and over again, and that he grabbed her arm, really hard, and wouldn't let go.  We then see Carrie rewinding the surveillance footage, and are shown Brody grabbing Jessica's arm via surveillance footage.  Brody asks her to show him, and she lifts the sleeve of her shirt to reveal some really nasty bruises.  Brody looks remorseful, and Chris comes into the scene, saying hi to his parents.

Chris then remarks that the throng of reporters, outside, has been there all night.  Brody goes to look out the window.  Dana appears in the scene, calls Chris a name, and is admonished about her language.  The phone rings, and Brody emphatically asks for it not to be answered.  It is too late, as Dana has already picked up the phone.  Dana says that it's CBS News, and Jessica says that it's the third time this week.  Brody then tells Dana to tell CBS News that he's not there.  Dana looks at Brody and says, "He says he's not here.", and hangs up the phone.  Brody looks aggravated, and Jessica has a kind of confused look on her face.  There is an awkward pause, and Brody reminds Jessica that he thought she didn't want to be late.  As Brody walks by Dana, Jessica tells him that maybe she should take another day off.  Brody tells her that after all the years on his own, he thinks he can handle one more day, smirks at her, and tells her to leave.  Brody and Jessica kiss, her and the kids leave, and Brody watches out the window as the reporters follow Jessica and the kids to the car.  We see Carrie watching Brody, as he stands there.  Brody has an expression on his face that looks like he is about to cry.

The important thing in this scene is that Brody is having PTSD night terrors.  He violently lashes out in his sleep, and has hurt Jessica's arm.  We are also told that he has been outside screaming things in Arabic.  The look on Brody's face, at the end of the scene, makes me think that he feels he has gone from one prison to another, because of the reporters.

Scene 4-Brody's prison cell flashback

Brody, again relatively clean shaven, is marching, in his tiny cell, with a limp.  He hears ghostly voices appearing to chant in Arabic, and starts saying, "Hello? Hello?"  He limps over to the door of his cell, and begins screaming "HELLO".  We then cut back to Brody, with the same look on his face that was at the end of scene 3.

That scene just probably illustrates what I said I think he felt, about the reporters causing him to feel like he is still in prison, in that moment. 

Scene 5-Outside the Brody house

We hear the thud of something hitting the house.  Brody storms across the living room, and opens the front door.  Reporters immediately begin to ask questions, and we see that someone had thrown a newspaper at the front door.  Brody stands outside, seemingly shocked at the scene, and we see Max standing behind the reporters.  Brody turns around, and goes back inside the house.  He pauses at the door, in an obviously bad state, and leaves the room. 

Scene 6-The Brody bedroom

If I am not clear, during this entire set of events, Carrie has been watching the surveillance cameras.  She begins to write something down, when Brody leaves the room.  We see Brody standing behind a door in his bedroom.  The second shot becomes the first Dutch Angle of the series, and we hear the phone ring.  He is about to have a PTSD episode.  While Brody is contemplating what to do, with a disturbed look on his face, Carrie continues to watch. Brody moves an ottoman out of the corner, and stands pressed up against the corner, with his eyes closed, while the phone continues to ring.

We cut back to Carrie writing on her notepad.  Much of it is out of focus, but here's what I can definitely read that she has written about what has gone on in this sequence of events.

Carrie's notepad:

Alone in house
Ignores phone call
Ignores phone call
Shame? Fear? Tortured

As we cut back to Brody, he slumps to the floor, and we see another flashback.

We have now had our first true appearance of a PTSD episode, and it is clear that Brody is definitely suffering.

Scene 7-Brody's prison cell flashback

We begin the scene with Brody slumped into a corner, closely matching the pose of the previous scene.  A huge difference in this scene is that Brody has a shaggy beard.  The beard is apparently more important than I originally thought, as I seem to remember that Brody was relatively clean shaven in the scenes where he was beating Walker to death.  We should now assume that Brody beat Walker to death relatively early in Brody's captivity.

There are multiple intercuts with Brody in flashback and the present.  I don't know much about PTSD, but my assumption is that he is trying to find his "happy place", to be able to deal with what he's feeling.  If I am right, his "happy place" (as happy as he can get, at this time) was at a time where he had a beard.  Also, the cell he's in does not appear to have any comforts, but it is definitely larger than the first cell they showed him in. 

Scene 8-Saul in a private club

The scene begins with Saul on the phone with the Crypto team leader, Pittman. Saul is told that there is no apparent pattern to Brody's finger tapping, and that Pittman has no basis with which to try to decipher anything.  Pittman tells Saul that he will keep trying as long as he needs, but that there is nothing definitive one way or the other, yet.  Saul says, "Keep looking.  I wanna leave no stone unturned on this."

We notice Saul has been looking at a painting.  A man walks in and asks him what he thinks, to which Saul replies that it is definitely an original.  I don't know much about art, but I believe it is a Rembrandt painting.  Here's a transcription of the conversation about the painting.

Saul:  Oh, definitely an original.  By one of the preeminent Dutch painters of his time.
Man:  Relatively recent acquisition, if I'm not mistaken.
Saul:  By an artist, who as it turns out, was not only Dutch, but also Jewish.
Man:  In a club with no Jewish members.  (The man gets a snide look on his face)  And that was your point, wasn't it?

Both men proceed to sit down, without shaking hands.

Man (offering Saul coffee):  How do you take it?
Saul:  Your Honor, I'm not asking for anything that hasn't been granted many thousands of times over, in the last ten years.
Judge (will refer to him as this, since we now know who he is):  Surveillance warrant, on an unspecified subject, on American soil.  If this were a standard request, you'd go through standard procedure, Saul.
Saul:  Well, in this case, I don't have time for a government lawyer to petition the court.
Judge:  So, you're asking me to issue a FISA Warrant directly, then? (laughing)  What is it, exactly, you do at Langley these days?
Saul:  Among other things, pay house calls to those I'd prefer not to have to--
Judge:  Strong arm?
Saul (pausing):  Disturb.
Judge (after awkward pause):  Are you ever going to let me off your hook, Saul?
Saul (laughing):  We both know you're far too fine a judge for that, Jeffrey.
Judge:  Can we at least act like this is about the law, rather than a brief moment of weakness, in my past?
Saul:  This is absolutely about the law, Your Honor.
Judge (sarcastically laughs):  Hmm.

The Judge then passes Saul an envelope, which Saul proceeds to open.

What we've learned from this scene is that Saul also has ways of getting people to do what he wants.  In this case, he knows embarrassing information about the Judge, which allows Saul to continue to go to him, when he has a need.  The other important thing about this scene is that Carrie is now legally off the hook for her illegal surveillance, as nothing of use has been found, yet, that could get thrown out of court, due to the illegal nature of the previous surveillance.  Something you should also pay attention to is Saul's use of language.  He is a master wordsmith, and is likely in charge of writing every press release that comes out of Langley.  As I said in the dissection of episode 1, make sure to pay very close attention to every time Saul is on the screen.  I am hoping to pick up most of my clues about what's going on through him. 

Scene 9-Carrie's bathroom/home

We see Carrie in her bathroom, after a shower, and we realize that she only has one Clozapine pill left.  She calls someone named Maggie (later revealed to be her sister), and leaves a message asking to see her family the next night.  We then see Brody, still sitting in the corner, on the surveillance monitor.  Carrie is painting her toenails.  While Carrie is painting her toenails, she is visibly frightened to hear the footsteps of someone entering her home.  Saul appears at the opening to her living room, and Carrie reminds him that she has a doorbell.  Saul asks her if she really thinks she has a right to privacy with all of her surveillance gear set up.  He then tells Carrie that her doorbell is broken.  He is holding the envelope he received from the Judge, and Carrie asks him what it is.  Here is a transcription of the conversation.

Carrie:  What's that?
Saul (holding up the envelope):  This gives you four weeks.
Carrie:  You got a warrant?  A FISA warrant?  We're legal now?
Saul:  Legal-ish.  But far from official.  And certainly not Estes-proof. (Carrie tries to grab the envelope, which Saul pulls away).  Be very careful not to mistake this for a stamp of approval.  Or a sanction from me for you to wage some sort of personal war.
Carrie:  Eyes on Brody makes complete sense.  It's exactly what you'd have done in my shoes, Saul.
Saul:  No, it is not.

There is an extremely awkward, long pause between the two of them.

Saul:  You lied to me about it, Carrie.  And right here in this room, when I called you on it.
Carrie:  I know what I did, and I know it was wrong...and insulting.
Saul (disdainfully):  Insulting...  That barely scratches the surface of what that was.  Four weeks, Carrie, not a second longer.

She then tells Saul she wants to show him something.  She proceeds to tell him about the nightmares Brody has, where he is repeatedly begging someone to kill him, in Arabic.  She says that Brody either has too much shame, is too scared, or both, to face the press, outside his house, or answer phone calls from the TV news, so he just sat in the corner of the bedroom.  She then says that he's been there, without moving, for over five hours.  Saul tells her this is perfectly normal behavior for someone who has spent 8 years in captivity.  She thinks it might be more than that.  Then, Saul tells her this perfect gem, that I will transcribe for you.  If you have seen all of the episodes, you will remember what happened not too long from now.

Saul (thinking):  If Brody had really been turned, as you say, you know what he'd more likely be doing by now?  Talking to the press outside his house, doing TV interviews, playing the hero card for every penny it's worth.
Carrie:  Maybe it's not that simple for him?
Saul (getting up to leave):  Get some sleep, Carrie.
Carrie:  No one said becoming a terrorist was easy, Saul.  (Saul pauses and turns around)  If you'd been taken prisoner, tortured for God knows how long, and somehow finally been turned.  Then one day you come home, and suddenly it's real, it's on.
Saul:  Well, that's one interpretation.  But that's all it is, at the moment.  Clean your apartment, and eat some real food.

Saul leaves, and Carrie looks down at her unfinished toenails.  While we are waiting to see the transition to the next scene, we hear some of a The Game influenced piano cue.  I believe this is a motif, and is a blurring of the reality lines, in the series, as Saul appears to think Carrie is blurring actual reality by over thinking the situation.  Saul intimates this could be a side effect of her not having had enough sleep and a poor diet.

There are a bunch of important things in this scene.  First, Carrie is nearly out of her anti-psychotic medication, and makes a call that leads us to believe she's going to get a refill from the person, Maggie (who we later find out is her sister).  Second, Saul has just as many problems with boundaries, as Carrie, as this is now the second time he has broken into her home.  Third, Carrie has a FISA warrant, but it's not exactly legal, what they're doing.  Fourth, Estes can certainly find out about it, if someone decides to tell him.  Fifth, she has exactly four weeks to conduct her investigation, and not a moment longer.  The implication is that Saul will tell what she's done, if she doesn't close up shop, after that time period has expired (provided no new information is discovered).  Sixth, they discuss what the actions would be of someone who had really turned.  Those, who are already caught up on the series, know what will eventually happen, in regards to this.  Finally, Saul basically tells her that she's thinking too much, that she needs to get some sleep, and eat real food, so that she can think clearly.  He's not exactly buying what she's selling.  Saul also appears to have first hand information about how a captive would react, upon arriving home, after being away for so long.  He also has a distinct pause, when she says that "No one said becoming a terrorist was easy, Saul."  That pause could mean nothing, or it could mean a lot.  Again, always keep your eyes on Saul, when he's in a scene.

Scene 10-A high end hotel

Important Character Introductions (a reminder is that all character bios are furnished by either Wikipedia or imdb):

Lynne Reed-Former member of Prince Farid Bin Abbud's harem
Stacy Morton-Prospective new member of Prince Farid's harem
Latif Bin Walid-Majordomo to Prince Farid, who is a Royal Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

We begin the scene with a bunch of beautiful women holding head shots.  A man walks into another room, where a woman is standing topless, and in her underwear, while being videotaped and interviewed by another woman.  The woman introduces the person being interviewed as Stacy Morton, and that the man is Latif Bin Walid, Majordomo for His Highness Prince Farid Bin Abbud.  Stacy is asked about her personality, and Latif appears to be very interested in the way she looks.  Dissatisfied with Stacy's answers, the interviewer tells her that the job she is interviewing for will pay her more in two years, than most people in the U.S. will earn in 20.  She then goes on to say that if she gets the job, she will be required to appear "self-possessed, confident, modest, and reticent, all at the same time".  She is told to stop asking what the interviewer means, and to start answering for herself.  Once the interview resumes, the first question the interviewer asks is "Do you enjoy anal sex?"  Stacy says "Excuse me?", and the interviewer stands up, and then asks her if she enjoys other women.  Stacy then says, "Sure, both".  When asked if she had ever dated anyone famous, Stacy replies that it is none of the interviewer's business.  The interviewer then proceeds to touch Stacy's crotch, and tells her that hair down there is not an option, for His Highness, and that she needs to wax it.  The interviewer turns to Latif, who nods in approval.  Stacy is told that she has made it through the final interview, will be contacted next week, and that she can get dressed.

Once the interview is over, the interviewer begins to place a phone call.  Latif suspiciously asks her who she is calling.  The interviewer says that she is also in need of a wax job, prior to Prince Farid's arrival, and offers the phone to Latif, if he wants to book the appointment himself.  He takes the phone from her, and hears music.  She convinces him to give her back the phone, and asks him to select the next woman to come in.  While Latif is away, the interviewer is nervously hoping someone will pick up.  Here are her exact words.

The interviewer:  Hi, this is Lynne Reed, two e's, I was referred by one of your clients, Carrie.  Yes, that's her.  I need to book a Brazilian wax for noon, tomorrow.  Right.  No, that's the only time I can do it.

We then cut to the person who is on the phone with Lynne Reed, and it is a Duty Officer at the CIA.  After the phone call ends, the Duty Officer calls Carrie, and tells her that she has an asset in from the cold wanting treatment at the Euro Spa, in Georgetown, tomorrow.  Carrie then asks if it is Lynne Reed.  The Duty Officer confirms that it is, and when told that the appointment made is for noon, Carrie gets a worried expression on her face, and double checks the time with the Duty Officer.  Upon confirmation, she hangs up and paces the room with a worried expression on her face.

This scene is mostly important for character introductions.  However, we do learn that Prince Farid has a voracious, and fetish filled sexual appetite.  We also learn that the interviewer, Lynne Reed, is one of Carrie's assets, in the field.  Latif is essentially Prince Farid's right hand man, and his character will have some very important business to transact in the not too distant future.

Scene 11-Carrie's home surveillance/The Brody house

Carrie hears a door shut on the surveillance camera, and begins watching.  Jessica has arrived home, and Chris is watching TV.  Jessica asks if Dad is home, and Chris responds that he doesn't know.  Immediately after that, we cut to Brody, still sitting in the corner of the bedroom.  After hearing Jessica's voice, Brody stands up, puts the ottoman back in the corner, and goes to meet Jessica.  She arrives in the bedroom before he can come out, and Jessica asks him how his day was.  Brody turns on a light, smiles (with a peaceful, vacant expression on his face), and says, "Great!"  We return to Carrie, and she has a rather appalled look on her face about his apparent hyperbole, about his day, since we know he has spent all day cowering in a corner.

I think the most important thing about this scene is that Brody has not moved from his position, of the morning, all day.  This gives us the idea that he has been in this position for at least 10 hours.  Then, with the flip of a switch, his personality becomes sunny.  This is a strange thing he will do a bunch of times in the series.  His personality seems to go on and off like a light switch.  The irony of him turning on a light, and then turning on the light of his personality made me laugh, this time around. 

Scene 12-The Pentagon

We see Captain Mike Faber walking down the hall, after an establishing shot of The Pentagon.  Mike goes into his office, where he finds Estes and Major Foster.  Foster has helped himself to Mike's booze, and hopes that Mike doesn't mind.  Mike is very annoyed during this scene, and his sarcasm and discomfort is apparent throughout the scene.

As Mike enters the room, he gives two looks to Estes (one upon entering and one before walking across the room).  This could be classified as a "knowing" glance, though we do not know what their connection is, at this point.  It almost seemed like a look of dislike, due to something that has happened previously.  Major Foster tells Mike that he thought they would stop by for a Situation Report on Sergeant Brody, and hands Mike a drink.  Here is a transcription of the Situation Report scene.

Mike:  The Situation Report on Brody is this.  He's been back three days, and it's going to take a little more time until he is willing to come out of his shell, let alone his house.
Major Foster:  The man represents a significant victory in the War On Terror, thanks to our friends at the CIA.  Now, putting aside for the moment that Sergeant Brody owes them his life, these are the facts.  Bin Laden's dead, and America thinks, or wants to think that this war is drawing to an end.  Politicians are pushing for wholesale withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Estes:  But, as we all know, Captain, the terrorists are still out there, after blood.  We need Brody in the public eye, reminding America that this is far from over.
Mike:  What if he's not up for it?  Psychologically?
Major Foster:  F*** it.  Drive on.  Isn't that what you Marines say?
Mike:  In combat.  Where we also s*** in Saran Wrap, and shoot to kill.  You want Brody to do that, too?
Major Foster:  Don't take that tone with me, Captain.
Mike:  Career pencil pusher with his brown nose in my Scotch saying, "F*** it.  Drive on."
Major Foster:  You're a Captain, in the United States Marines.  You mean to tell me you can't give a Sergeant a direct order?  Is that what you want me to report up the chain?
Estes (standing up):  Look, Mike, I get it.  You and Brody are friends, right?  And, by the way, how's his wife, Jennifer, doing?
Mike:  Jessica.

Estes gives him a look that says, "No s***".  After this look, Mike, realizing what's going on, gets a look of shame, and looks down.

Estes (finally picking up his drink):  If not for us, Brody should at least do it for her, for their kids.  And I'm sure you're more than familiar with their current financial problems.
Major Foster:  DOD is offering a very generous re-enlistment package, plus a promotion, that could pull his family out of the s***ter.
Estes:  Give your friend the correct advice, Captain.  Make it happen.

This scene is very interesting in a few ways.  First, and foremost, we have just learned that Brody is meant to be part of a propaganda mission.  We don't know who Major Foster is, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that he is probably part of the P.R. Department, much like what I feel Trujillo was.  The line about "career pencil pusher" tells you he was not a soldier.  One of the other important aspects of this scene is how rank was treated.  In multiple lines, Brody is referred to as Sergeant Brody.  Mike is referred to as Captain.  They are setting up a clear delineation in rank, and want to make sure you are aware of it.  Then, towards the end of the scene, Estes refers to Captain Faber as Mike.  I haven't talked all that much about it, but I'm pretty sure Estes referring to him as "Mike" means that he knows him on a more personal level.  We also find out in this scene that the Brodys are in deep financial trouble.  If Brody is willing to play along, this would fix all of the family's financial problems.

The overall implication of the scene is that if Brody doesn't re-enlist, there may not be a better way to "sell" the War On Terror, and that if he doesn't re-enlist, his family's financial problems will likely be devastating (damned if he does, damned if he doesn't).  Regardless of where the series goes from here, we had it directly spelled out for us that the desire is for Brody to be used as a tool of propaganda, to promote staying in the Middle East, at the very least.  We also get the inkling that Mike still has a healthy distrust of authority, in this scene, as evidenced by his willingness to show up someone with a higher rank than him.  However, as of this scene, I don't believe we have had any more in depth professional character reveals, about Mike, through episode 8.  Just keep in your head that Mike is in Military Intelligence.  I believe what he does is very important to the overall story, but I don't know why, yet.

Scene 13-The Brody house

I'm going to take a moment to talk about the American flag, in this series.  On most of the houses of the characters, in the show, an American flag is displayed.  I do not know whether this is a visual clue (I'm going to begin looking more closely at it, if I can remember), but it's something I'm going to note, every time we see one.  I believe Saul's house has one, as well.

The scene begins with a throng of reporters outside of the Brody house, in the early morning.  Right before that, the transition began with a shot of the American flag on the outside of the Brody house.  Inside, Chris is playing a video game, and Brody is attempting to make breakfast.  Chris pauses his video game, and asks Brody what it's like to kill somebody.  During a long pause, while Brody is deciding how to answer, we cut to Carrie watching him.  Just as Brody is about to answer, he looks out the window and notices a photographer trying to get a shot of him.

Brody goes outside to confront the guy, who wants to ask him a couple of questions.  Brody tells him that he has 10 seconds to get off of his property.  The photographer tells Brody that he is technically standing on an easement, to which Brody responds, "5 seconds."  Brody begins to walk away, and the photographer says, "Come on, Nick", and starts chasing after Brody attempting to ask him a question.  Brody snaps, and delivers and open handed blow to the photographer's throat.  Immediately after doing this, Brody lifts his head, and closes his eyes, with a "what have I done?" expression on his face.  Carrie is shocked when she witnesses this (as it cuts to Carrie, in a zoom, in the music, we hear something that sounds very similar to "Cuckoo", like from a Cuckoo Clock, twice).  When the camera cuts back to Brody, he is shot in a very disjointed way, which probably is meant to tell the audience he is about to have, or is having, another PTSD moment.  Brody looks as if he does not know what to do, and then notices Chris standing outside, looking at him.  Brody turns back toward the terrified photographer, and walks into the woods behind his property.  Carrie is very upset that she just lost surveillance on Brody, after this critical, extremely violent break.  As the scene transitions, we hear what appears to be Middle Eastern musical accents in the music cue.

While we were hoping to get Brody's thoughts on killing someone, the photographer ended up providing two pieces of information.  The first is that Brody is capable of snapping in wildly inappropriate, and extremely violent ways (this was also evidenced with the bruising on Jessica's arm).  The second is that Brody actually does go somewhere, when things aren't going his way.  His son saw his brutal violence, and this will not be the last time that Brody does something that will scare Chris.

Scene 14-Carrie surveillance/Brody leaves the property into the woods/The Brody house

Upon losing Brody, Carrie calls Max and tells him where to go to try to find Brody.  She tells him to call her once he has located him.  Right after this, Jessica comes out of the bedroom, in her robe, notices Brody's breakfast burning, and that no one is in the house.  Jessica asks who left the pan on the stove, and finds a very disturbed Chris standing by the patio door.  Jessica asks where Brody is, and Chris just looks shocked.  We then cut to Brody exiting the woods, and crossing a busy street.  We see that Max now has eyes on Brody.  Max follows Brody into a mall, but runs into a woman, and appears to at least temporarily lose Brody.

Scene 15-Surveillance shift changeover with Carrie and Virgil

Virgil enters, and tells Carrie that a big part of why he left the Company, to become freelance, was so that he could have a life.  He also tells her that Carrie is quickly becoming his wife's least favorite person.  She tells Virgil that she has to go meet with someone she recruited in Bahrain a few years ago, a professional girlfriend of a Saudi Prince.  He asks what the girlfriend has, to which Carrie responds that she'll find out when she meets her.  Virgil, picking up a carton of what appears to be day old Chinese takeout, asks if Carrie has any food.  She goes to her refrigerator, and says that she has a yogurt.  Virgil has a disgusted look on his face, and throws the carton of takeout onto the table.

This scene appears to mostly be a throwaway.  However, she did tell Virgil where she was going, and who she was seeing.  Just because Carrie trusts him, doesn't necessarily mean she SHOULD trust him.  After all, he made a point of saying he still works freelance.  He's not retired.  Generally, I would think that means he works for the highest bidder, no matter what side they might be on.  Due to that, I feel her lips really should not be as loose as they are regarding Agency business, with him, that is not directly related to the Brody surveillance he is involved in.  He's not part of the Company anymore, and the kind of stuff she is about to go do should be classified, due to the imminent danger the asset could be in by talking to her.  We also learn that Carrie completely neglects herself, once she becomes engrossed in a mission. 

Scene 16-Carrie meeting with Lynne Reed

Lynne Reed meets Carrie in the spa, at noon.  A noon meeting is a code red.  When Reed arrives, she nervously checks behind her, as she enters the room where Carrie is sitting.  Carrie asks Reed why she's in D.C., and Reed tells Carrie that she's pre-screening more girls for Prince Farid's harem, prior to his arrival in the morning.  Carrie asks why it is a code red meeting.  Reed tells her that five days ago, in Cypress, while aboard the Prince and his yacht, that Latif Bin Walid told the Prince he had a surprise visitor.  Carrie asks who the visitor was, and Reed responds to Carrie saying, "You know that they stone women like me, to death, if we get caught doing anything that we're not supposed to?"  After a brief pause, she then hands her cell phone to Carrie, and shows that the visitor was Abu Nazir.  In the cell phone footage, Prince Farid is shown speaking with Abu Nazir.  Carrie gets an orgasmic look on her face, upon seeing Abu Nazir.  Right after this, Lynne tells Carrie that she wants out.  She is terrified about what she has witnessed, that Farid's people are going to suspect something, and that she just wants to stop providing information, now.  Carrie tells her that all she needs to do is keep her eyes and ears open for the rest of her contract.  Reed tells Carrie that's what she said when Carrie recruited her in Bahrain, but that, when she agreed to do it, she never thought she would end up 8 feet away from the most dangerous terrorist, in the world.  Here is the rest of their conversation.

Carrie:  You are the only Agency asset to have had eyes on Nazir, in seven years.
Lynne:  Asset? I am just some girl, from Sandusky, Ohio, you talked into helping out our country.
Carrie:  And I won't let anything happen to you.  Don't quit on me now, please.  You can't.  Don't think I don't appreciate what it took for you to do this, Lynne.

Without saying another word, Carrie leaves.

The main point of this scene is exposition.  Even though we have always assumed Abu Nazir is alive, we have now found out that he has apparently been in some form of hiding.  No Agency asset has had eyes on Nazir, for seven years.  The other aspects of this scene are character related.  In the case of Reed, she really had no idea what she signed up for, when becoming the Prince's professional girlfriend.  She also had no idea what she was getting into, when she agreed to be an asset for Carrie.  This shows that she is very naive, and does not rationally think before acting.  As for Carrie, when confronted with the idea that Reed feels she is in mortal danger, spying on the Prince, Carrie tells her that she will protect her.  This is an empty promise, as we know that Carrie leaves collateral damage in her wake, and there is no way she can really protect Reed from afar.  Carrie now has crucial information, and that kind of information leads to the type of steamrolling she usually does that hurts people.  The fact that Carrie leaves without getting an answer from Reed tells the audience that she won't take no for an answer.  Another key point is that Carrie doesn't look at Reed as a person, she looks at her as an asset.  She looks at people like they are pieces on a chessboard, to be used how she feels, and completely ignores their feelings, regardless of the risks the people are taking.  This will be a recurring theme, in future episodes. 

Scene 17-Carrie leaves meeting with Lynne Reed

As Carrie is leaving, she immediately calls Saul, and this is their conversation.

Carrie:  Alert the group, Saul.  Inform Estes, this is a game changer.
Saul:  Can you be more specific?
Carrie:  I don't want to talk on an open line.
Saul:  Source protection?
Carrie:  It's way past source protection, Saul. (after a brief pause)  I've got a visual confirm on the Sandman.
Saul:  What?
Carrie:  You heard me.  Actual eyes on.
Saul:  How far away are you?
Carrie:  20 minutes.
Saul:  I'll assemble the group.

There are three things I want to note, here.  First, Carrie, you sure have some loose lips.  You tell Saul that you don't want to talk on an open line, yet you are so excited, about the news, that you, nearly immediately, tell him what you didn't want to say on an open line.  This is bad news if anyone is tapping into her phone conversation.  The second thing is that Saul looks outside of his office, as he's on the phone with Carrie.  That's probably unimportant, but I am noting everything that could be noted.  The final thing, again visual, is that Saul immediately dials a phone number that has at least 7 digits, in it, after getting off the phone with Carrie.  If he's gathering the group, why would his first call be to an external number?  In my opinion, if it weren't important, they would have cut before he pressed a fourth number.  I think it means something, but there's no telling what it is, right now.  Stuff like that is extreme analysis, and there is at least some possibility that it means nothing in the overall story. 

Scene 18-The Brody house 

The reporters are still outside the Brody house, as they always are.  Mike knocks on the front door, and Jessica asks why he's there.  Mike tells her that he has to talk to Brody.  Chris appears, and Mike says "What's up?" to him.  Chris reveals that Brody beat the crap out of somebody.  This visibly disturbs Jessica, and she yells at Dana that she asked her to watch TV with Chris.  Chris tells Jessica that Dana went to her room.  Mike asks who Brody beat the crap out of, and Jessica asks Chris to go watch TV for awhile, because she needs to talk to "Uncle Mike".  Chris agrees, and leaves.

Jessica invites Mike in, and he asks why the kids aren't in school.  This is their exchange.

Jessica:  You don't know?  Isn't that why you are here?
Mike:  Know what?  Hey, are you okay?
Jessica:  Brody hit a reporter, and then he took off into the woods.  Chris saw the whole thing.
Mike:  You need to take a breath, Jess, come here.

At this point, we visibly see Jessica pull away and put her hand up to stop Mike from touching her.  We then cut to a shot of Virgil watching the surveillance.  Virgil apparently feels this reaction is enough to write down on his notepad.

Mike asks how long ago it happened, as is told it was around an hour ago, maybe more.  Mike asks why she didn't call him right away, and then notices her nasty bruises.  He is visibly shocked.  Jessica tells him that Brody has nightmares, or flashbacks.  After this, we cut back to Virgil, narrating the scene, and preparing to eat a yogurt.  We hear Jessica saying that she has to make things work with Brody.  Virgil, mockingly, says, "This is where he tells you everything is going to be oookay."  Mike then says, "It's going to be okay, Jess."  She says, "Is it really?  Do you honestly think so?" and we cut back to Virgil taking his first bite of yogurt, and then spitting it out, because it's disgusting.

Of minor note, in this scene, is that Jessica is holding a phone, the entire time.  Nothing is made of it, so I won't read anything major into it, but it's there, and worth noting.  Brody's attack on the reporter has been made public (unless the reporter is an idiot), and Brody's attack on Jessica has also been made public (to Mike).  Someone outside the family has now been told that Brody has had a meltdown and PTSD symptoms, and that he is currently missing.  We also see that Mike and Jessica's relationship has already fractured, and that it will have no hope of continuing.  Jessica tells him that she has to make it work, with Brody.  This is the official end to their romantic relationship, as the unofficial end came when Brody was found to be alive.  The other part of the scene was mostly meant for "comedy".  Virgil says what Mike is thinking, and then we notice that even the yogurt in Carrie's fridge is bad.  Again, we are told that Carrie does not take care of herself, at all.

Scene 19-CIA

Saul does a walk and talk with Carrie.  Here is their interaction.

Carrie:  This is the first confirmed sighting of Abu Nazir in seven years.
Saul:  And very much to your credit, nobody is arguing with that.  But it's not enough to authorize a task force.
Carrie:  I'm not asking for that.  All I need is a few more bodies on Sergeant Brody.
Saul (slightly frustrated):  Look, the circle's small.  We keep it that way, til you have more than just a theory linking Brody and Abu Nazir.
Carrie:  So, Abu Nazir's re-surfacing just as Brody has miraculously returned home means nothing?  Is just a coincidence?
Saul:  The dots are there Carrie, but you haven't connected them, yet.
Carrie:  Saul, I understand that you're still furious with me, but, give me something, here, please.
Saul (exhaling with frustration):  I'm not telling you to stop.  I'm telling you to slow down.  FISA warrant, that gives you four weeks.  Use it...carefully, methodically.  Look, like it or not, you work for Deputy Director David Estes, who has career stakes in Brody, whom he and his department brought home to great fanfare.  Wanna challenge that?  You better be damn sure you got your ducks, in a row, first.

Right after this, Carrie calls Max to ask him where Brody is.  Max, while walking in the mall, tells her he doesn't know where he is.  She reminds him that if Brody can even get 15 seconds, to have a meeting, that will be enough, and that she's not going to miss that.  She emphatically tells Max to find him, and find him fast.  She ends with telling him to call her back.  Again, Carrie's excellent people skills are on display, in this conversation.

Carrie feels she has been given viable, actionable information about Abu Nazir, and the possible link between him and Brody.  Saul, however, stonewalls her thoughts.  He tells her to not get ahead of herself, and to be EXTREMELY careful about how she goes about her business, due to the ramifications of Brody's return to Estes's and others' career aspirations.  If this goes wrong, or she is wrong, she will be buried.  Saul is playing the part of Ezekiel, telling her that if she doesn't watch out, she's going to get burned.  If Saul didn't tell her these things, her blood would be on his hands.  Now that he's told her, her own blood will be on her own hands.  She has been warned.  This is the first real idea that Saul is going to begin throwing obstacles into Carrie's path, and that a real distance is beginning to develop between them.  Whether that means anything to the greater overall story is something that is still being determined.  These obstacles will begin to come up much more frequently, in future episodes.

Scene 20-Carrie conversation with Estes

Estes is holding a briefing, and sees Carrie outside the door.  He walks outside and congratulates her on the Abu Nazir find.  He tells her that everything on her desk needs to go on the back burner, and that he wants Carrie's asset on Prince Farid "like white on rice".  Carrie seems frustrated by the whole conversation.  He then tells Carrie that the first thing he wants the asset to do is upload the data on the Prince's Blackberry.  Carrie then tells Estes that the asset is scared out of her mind.  Here's that conversation.

Carrie:  I need to be able to guarantee her protection.  Backup.
Estes:  Would a four man fire team do it?
Carrie (surprised expression on her face):  Great! (relieved expression)
Estes (sarcastically):  For an escort you recruited in Bahrain?
Carrie:  Don't be a prick, David.
Estes:  You know damn well if we put a quick reaction team, on the girl, in this short time frame, we have no idea of who's watching.  If Abu Nazir even smells one on the Prince, he'll vanish...into thin air, again.
Carrie:  It's the QRT's job not to be detected.  You're saying you can't trust those guys to protect an asset in danger?
Estes:  It's my job to make the tough calls, Carrie.  The answer is no.  Your job is to control your asset.  She needs backup, you're it.  Get it done (hands her what looks like a thumb type drive).
Carrie:  Yes, sir.

Saul looks into the hallway, at Carrie, as she walks away.

From this scene, we learn that Estes is happy to have eyes on Nazir, and really wants to begin to exploit the asset (Lynne Reed).  He is, however, less than impressed at who Carrie's asset is.  Estes is willing to put the asset in extreme danger, just to attempt to get the information that he wants.  He appears to think of the asset as a piece of garbage than can be discarded, once she has served his purpose.  I think it's worth noting that Estes shares a lot of the same character traits as Carrie.  He will run people over to serve his purpose, as has been demonstrated in multiple scenes in the series, already (Trujillo asking for a delay, railroading Mike into forcing Brody to re-enlist, and not caring whether the asset's life is in danger).  He is motivated to succeed in whatever it is he is trying to accomplish, and it is clear that collateral damage means nothing to him, as well.  We also see the notion of rank coming into play.  Carrie is given a direct order, and responds with "Yes, sir." 

Scene 21-Brody in a hardware section, at the mall

We finally catch up with Brody, after his disappearance.  He is walking down the aisle of a hardware section in a store.  We also see that Max has now found him, and that he calls Carrie.  Max tells her that Brody is looking at everything, lumber, nails, screws, electrical wiring, power tools, you name it.  Carrie asks him if Brody is taking notes, or anything, and Max responds that "whatever he's doing. It looks like he's doing it all in his head."  Max tells Carrie that Brody is on the move, and tells her he will call her back.  As Max turns around a Security Guard stops him, and forces him to go another direction.  Brody continues on, with a disturbed, vacant, and weepy look on his face.  Here are the items that we see Brody pick up, and/or test during the scene.

1.  A light switch
2.  Welcome mats and floor rugs, in the rug aisle

This scene is pure misdirection.  The idea behind it is that Brody is looking at supplies he would need for whatever it is he is doing that falls into Carrie's feelings about him.  Max is following Brody, but is so bad at his job, that he is noticed by Security. 

Scene 22-Surveillance shift changeover/The Brody house

On the surveillance monitor, we see that the Brodys have been delaying dinner until Brody returns home.  They give up, as we see Virgil watching, and decide to eat.  We see and hear that Mike is there, presumably still waiting to talk to Brody.  Carrie returns home to relieve Virgil.  Carrie asks Virgil if there are any new developments.  He tells Carrie that he believes that Mike is really wishing Brody doesn't return so he can keep doing the wife.  Carrie makes a joke about breaking up being hard to do.  In the most significant development of the series, so far, Carrie has returned home with groceries!  Virgil asks if she has any popcorn in her groceries.  He is still really happy when she reveals that she has pretzels, and he quickly opens them.

As Virgil and Carrie continue to watch the surveillance, we transition into the scene at the Brody house.  Chris asks "Uncle Mike" if, since he's a Captain, if that means he's Brody's boss.  Mike gets a very annoyed look on his face, and ignores Chris's pecking at him, about this.  Then, Dana speaks up and says, "It's Irish Stew.  Dad's favorite, right Mom?", while appearing to give a disapproving look to "Uncle Mike".  Chris then asks if his dad is in trouble.  Mike says no, and we see Brody appear outside, at the door of his garage.  Mike continues on saying that the reporter should be in trouble, not Brody.  Brody notices that Mike is there, pauses for a moment, and then enters the garage, holding a bag, while being watched by Carrie and Virgil.

Carrie then asks why there isn't a camera in the garage.  Virgil tells her that, on her budget, he had to prioritize.  She becomes livid that there are no eyes and ears in there, and that they now have a "blind spot", where he just put a bag containing who knows what.

As we cut back to the Brody house, both Mike and Jessica notice the silhouette of a person in the garage, and Jessica goes outside to see what is going on.  Before Jessica can arrive at the garage, Brody comes out, and meets her in the driveway.  Angrily, Carrie asks where the sound is.  Virgil laughs, and says, "Not that you deserve it, but", and turns it up.  Carrie actually says, "Thank you."  Here is the conversation between Brody and Jessica.

Jessica:  Where have you been?
Brody (with peaceful look on his face):  I was out walking. (The look on his face is very similar to when he said "Great!", after sitting in a corner all day)
Jessica:  All day?
Brody:  Didn't know that wasn't allowed.
Jessica:  Please don't do that.  (Brody looks away, with the peaceful look on his face, and there is a significant pause)  You know the last 8 years haven't exactly been a picnic for me and the kids, either. (Brody, peacefully, nods).  One way or another, we've all changed.  We just have to find a way to start over.  (Comfort resumes between them)  You punched a reporter.
Brody:  Oh, he'll live.
Jessica:  In front of Chris.
Brody:  He'll live, too.

An awkward pause ensues, where Brody looks away, and Jessica looks kind of surprised.

Jessica:  That's it?  He'll live?
Brody (peaceful look on his face):  Dinner smells good.

Jessica looks at Brody like she doesn't know who he is, and it almost seems like she's scared of this.  They go into the house.  Brody notices that Mike and the kids are playing a card game.  He asks what it is, and Mike tells him that it is Hearts.  Brody, establishing rapport with the kids, says to not be fooled and that Mike used to double his paycheck, playing that game.  Mike winks at the kids.  Right after this, Dana uses a very vulgar phrase when referring to what Marines call the game.  She is again admonished, for language, by her mom.

We cut back to the surveillance, and Virgil jokingly says to Carrie, "Maybe the daughter's the terrorist."  They both laugh (Carrie half-heartedly), and Carrie says, "F*** you, Virgil."  They say goodnight, and we cut back to the Brody house.  Brody asks if it's his mom's Irish Stew, and looks very happy.  Then, something very important happens.  Here is the conversation.

Jessica:  Should we say Grace?
Brody:  We say Grace now? (everyone at the table gets uncomfortable looks on their faces)
Jessica:  When we have things we are especially thankful for.  Right guys?
Chris:  Can I do it, please?
Jessica:  Go ahead, sweetie.
Chris:  Dear God.  Thank you for bringing my dad back.  Please make him a Captain, too, just like Mike. (Mike winces and opens his eyes at hearing this)
Jessica:  What about the food, Chris?
Chris:  Oh yeah.  And thanks for the food.
Mike:  Amen.
Jessica:  Amen.

At the end of the scene, Brody casts a mistrusting glance at Mike, and, after Brody looks away, Mike shoots him a nervous glance.  Mike definitely appears to be worried that Brody knows what has happened between him and Jessica.

I'd like to talk about this portion of the scene, first.  One of my working theories about Brody is that he was an atheist before going off to war.  If he were involved in some deep undercover operation, it is best that the person believes in nothing, rather than believe in something that can be torn down.  Whether Brody's pre-war belief system will eventually fully be revealed is unknown, at this time.

When Chris begins to say Grace, Dana, Jessica, and Brody all have their eyes open, which would not be normal in a prayer, no matter how light the prayer is.  Having eyes open would generally mean disdain for praying.  It at least appears that Mike has his eyes closed initially.  When the prayer is ended, Mike says "Amen", and Jessica follows.  This appears to be a major plot point, in that it appears that Mike is likely a religious man.  Brody probably gathers that the only way his previously not religious household would have been introduced to praying is through Mike.  It's just another log on the fire of suspicion building for Brody about Mike.  It also appears that Brody gives Mike a pretty icy look, when Chris mentions promoting his dad to Captain.

The overall scene was very long, and drawn out.  On Carrie's end, the most important things are that there is a blind spot in the surveillance package, and that Brody has placed a bag of something in the blind spot.  This is officially the place where Brody can go to do things, undetected.

As for the dinner, it seems pretty obvious that Dana knows Mike has a thing with her mom.  She makes a subtle dig at him, in regards Irish Stew being her dad's favorite.  My guess is that Dana has a great dislike for Mike, and that Chris likes him a lot.

In the part of the scene where Jessica confronts Brody outside, the main thing we glean from this is that Brody is detached from reality, in some way.  He doesn't really understand the overall ramifications of his actions, and he really doesn't care, not even about the effect his actions have on his own son.  This scares Jessica, and is just another thing she needs to be mindful of.  He also just completely changes the subject, when she presses him further about the effect of his actions on his son.  Also, keep in mind that Brody had the peaceful, vacant look on his face, during this entire conversation.  We'll keep an eye out for when we see this look.  So far, if I haven't missed any, we had it when he turned the light on, after sitting in the corner all day, and here, when he was talking about walking all day.  I'm sure it will have more significance as the story progresses. 

Scene 23-Brody and Mike talk outside the Brody house

Brody and Mike go outside, and Mike offers Brody a cigar, which Brody declines.  Here is their exchange.

Brody:  Do you always come over here in uniform?  (the next part is said sarcastically, as a needle) Once a Marine, always a Marine.  Does it start something like that?
Mike:  Look, I'm not gonna bulls*** you.  You can't keep doing this Brody.

(We cut to Carrie realizing this might be important)

Brody:  Doing what?
Mike:  Come on, you know it's f***in' win-win.  Talk to the press.  Take that call from CBS News.  I mean, do an interview.
Brody:  Whoa, whoa!  Stop right there, Mike.
Mike:  They're gonna give you a promotion.  I mean Hollywood's going to do a f***in movie about you.  In the process, you get to provide for Jess and the kids (Jessica walks outside and hears this last line).
Brody:  I said stop!  The brass sent you over here to turn me into some f***in poster boy for their bulls*** war. (Mike gets a disappointed look, and looks down)  You know what?  You can go right back there and tell them the days I take orders from the United States Military, or the Government, are over.  Done.  (Jessica is still observing, and Brody has another long pause) You know what I really need, Mike?  (Brody steps in closer to Mike) I need the last 8 years back. (Mike clenches his jaw)  Where I get to take care of my wife and kids.  Where I don't get asked to go over there, and fight their F***IN war!  Where I'm not taken prisoner, not left out there to rot, never tortured, none of it.  (Mike clenches his jaw, again)  Can you do that for me?  Or is it too much to ask?  There's the door...(knowing sarcastic expression on Brody's face) "Uncle Mike".

And finally the action amps up.  This is what is called dramatic tension.  Brody went through hell and back, and now Mike is strong arming him to do what the brass wants, not even caring what Brody actually wants to do.  He also even goes so far as to talk about the Brodys' financial problems.  He is telling Brody that he needs to suck it up, do what the brass wants, and make a bunch of money in the process.  It is at this point that we find Brody is very bitter about his experience.  We find out that he thinks the war was bulls***, and he clearly understands that the brass is attempting to use him as a poster boy to prop up the "bulls*** war".  He's offended by this notion, and tells Mike to basically tell them to f-off.  All Brody wants to do is have his life be what it used to be, but no one can offer him that.  His life has changed, forever.  This is also another scene where we get the implication that Brody never believed in the war to begin with, and that he is exasperated to find that they want to use him to prop up a war that he didn't even believe in.  Brody's crack, at the beginning of the scene, about the uniform, also gives you an indication about his thoughts on the Military.  Finally, at the end of the scene, with Jessica watching, Brody sarcastically calls him "Uncle Mike".  If we were unsure about whether Brody knows something is up, this should make it very clear to the audience that he doesn't trust Mike anymore.  Trust me when I tell you this is going to be a very long, slow burn until it is officially revealed.

Scene 24-Chris's bedroom

The scene begins with Chris lying in his bed, writing in what appears to be a journal.  Brody appears at the door, and goes and sits on Chris's bed.  Here's what he says.

Brody:  There are times when you have to stand up for yourself, and what you believe in.  I wish you hadn't seen what you saw, today, but you did, and I'm sorry.  You gonna be okay?

Chris nods and smiles, Brody grabs his nose, and leaves.  We then cut back to Chris, still looking conflicted.

In direct contrast to the previous scene, with Jessica, where Brody appears not to care at all about his son's feelings, he does go in and apologize to Chris, for what he saw, although not for what he did.  He does appear to care, based on this scene.  The problem is that Chris doesn't appear to believe him (Chris lies convincingly to Brody's face, with his facial expression), and he still shows the same level of emotion he had when he witnessed his dad punching the reporter.  This scene also gives us the idea that Brody is two faced.  He is able to show emotion when it comes to his son, but he definitely appears to have put some kind of wall between him and Jessica. 

Scene 25-Carrie surveillance/The Brody house

We begin the scene with the sound of a college basketball game, through the surveillance, and Carrie enters the room, brushing her teeth.  We cut to Brody, who, looking weepy, and vacant, is watching the game.  Jessica comes into the living room and sits in front of the couch, looking at Brody.  Brody ignores her.  Eventually, Jessica, begins talking, and here is what she says, while Brody still ignores her.

Jessica:  You know, everyone just wants to thank you for your service.  (Jessica goes to hold Brody's hand, and Brody does not reciprocate, or even appear to notice that Jessica is there)  Your sacrifice.  Maybe they want to thank all of us, you, me, and the kids.  (Brody takes his hand from her, and put his hands behind his head)  Fine.  One day you're gonna want to talk about all of this.

They continue to sit in silence, and we see Carrie continuing to watch.

If we look at this scene on its base level, Brody appears to be completely detached from his wife.  When put in context with his actions of the scene with his son, and the earlier scene, with Jessica, it definitely appears that he has already begun putting up an emotional wall, between him and Jessica.  Jessica comes to him, and her words make it appear that some of this is self-serving.  This really detaches Brody, as, right now, his emotions are that he is being used, or screwed over, by everyone around him.  No one cares about how Brody feels about all of this.  They all want something out of what HE went through.

Scene 26-Washington, D.C. high end hotel

We see Latif Bin Walid walking with Lynne Reed, who he tells to take His Highness upstairs, to settle him in.  Reed asks how long until his next appointment.  Walid tells her, "Long enough".  As they continue walking, we see Virgil talking on a phone, and he runs into Reed, spilling his tea on her.  Virgil apologizes to her, and Latif tells him that's it's okay, and that accidents happen.  Latif tells Reed to go clean it off, in the bathroom, that she has less than three minutes, and that he will wait there.

As she enters the bathroom, Carrie comes out of somewhere inside there, and startles Reed.  Carrie hands her a compact, and this is what she says.

Carrie:  Under the sponge of this compact, there's a plug in device that will fit in the Prince's Blackberry.  It will need 45 seconds to upload all of his data.
Lynne Reed:  And let's suppose that I get that far?
Carrie:  You call the spa, again, and you hand it off to me in person.
Reed:  What if the device doesn't fit?
Carrie:  It will.
Reed:  You said before that you would never let anything happen to me.
Carrie:  And I meant it.  There's a team protecting you 24/7.
Reed:  Where are they?
Carrie:  Aside from the man who spilled tea on you, just now, who you won't see again, they're right under your nose.  But if you can see them, or know who they are, that's a problem.

Carrie then switches Reed's compact, and Reed walks out of the bathroom, with an expression that seems to say "you better be right, about this".  After Reed leaves, Carrie looks at herself in the mirror, and the audience is left to wonder whether she likes what she sees.

This scene is important mostly because of the transfer of equipment to the asset, and the explaining of the mission.  It is also important, because, again, Carrie lies right to her asset's face, about her protection.  It's beginning to appear that whenever Carrie feels like she is in control of someone, that it is remarkably easy for her to convincingly lie to them.  Pay attention to that idea, because her "ability" to lie will become a detriment to her character, as the series progresses.

Scene 27-Prince Farid Bin Abbud's arrival at the high end hotel

The scene begins with Prince Farid talking on his Blackberry, exiting a limo.  Reed goes out to greet him, and we see Carrie leaving the hotel from another direction.  Prince Farid appears to be happy to see Reed. 

Scene 28-Carrie's car/Maggie's house

We enter the scene with Carrie sitting in her car.  She appears to be conflicted about getting out.  She finally unbuckles her seat belt, and we find she is in a residential neighborhood.  There are two girls on the porch, and when they see her, they run to her screaming "Auntie Carrie!"  We now know, for certain, that Maggie is Carrie's sister.

Important Character Introductions:

Maggie Mathison-Carrie's sister, who is also apparently a Psychologist or Psychiatrist
Ruby Mathison-Maggie's oldest daughter
Josie Mathison-Maggie's youngest daughter

We find that there is still someone out there who has not been trampled by Carrie's self-serving ways...her nieces.  In every scene they're in, they show immense amounts of affection toward Carrie.  They even forgive her for forgetting about Ruby's birthday.  It turns out Carrie didn't forget Ruby's birthday, and she produces a present for her.  She then tells Ruby that she had to work last Saturday, and that's the only reason she wasn't there.  Directly after this exchange, Maggie appears on the porch, and Josie says to look what Carrie got Ruby for her birthday.  Maggie remarks how cool it is and reminds Ruby to say thank you.  She then asks them to go inside and do their homework, and that they can see Carrie after they're done.  Carrie is amazed that the kids are so well-behaved, and Maggie jokingly says, "I beat them.  Don't tell the neighbors.  Come on in."

Once inside, Carrie is sitting on the couch, and this exchange happens between her and Maggie.

Maggie:  Staying for dinnner?
Carrie:  I can't I'd--
Maggie:  love to, but you're slammed as usual?
Carrie:  Maggie
Maggie:  No, doll, you don't have to explain.  We worry about you, Dad and I.
Carrie:  Yeah.  How's he doin'?
Maggie:  Considering he has the same illness you have?  Well, now he's under my roof, he goes for regular therapy and treatment.  That's the deal.  So um, he's good.
Carrie:  Are you finished?  Come on, Maggie.  Ease up a bit.  Just once, give me a break.

Maggie passes Carrie a bottle of the blue pills.

Carrie:  Only seven this time?
Maggie:  Raiding my samples cupboard not only enables you, it jeopardizes my license.  So, uh, seven pills.  And we talk again in a week, not a month.  Or you could just deal with the problem like any normal person would, and go see a Psychiatrist.
Carrie:  I keep telling you to work where I work--
Maggie:  You can't disclose your illness, or they'll pull your security clearance?  I understand, Carrie.
Carrie:  I'm really good at what I do, Maggie.
Maggie:  And I'm not just a quack.

Without speaking, Carrie looks slightly embarrassed, and we get the idea that Carrie thanks Maggie for the pills.

Maggie:  Dad will be pissed he missed you.
Carrie:  Where is he?
Maggie:  Bill took the day off, and they went golfing.  You said you were coming tonight.  It's not even 6, yet.

Carrie goes over to Maggie and gives her a co-dependent hug (patting), says next time, and says she is going to go say bye to the girls.

This scene lets us know that Carrie is, in fact, ill, and that her sister is supplying her drugs.  We also find out that this illness runs in the family.  Carrie has been keeping her illness a secret, to retain her security clearance.  Our guess is that someone with her illness would be prone to paranoid delusions, which is certainly not an asset in her line of work.  We also find out that her nieces have unconditional love for Carrie, and the relationships with her nieces appear to be the only good and healthy ones Carrie has in her life. 

Scene 29-The Brody house bed/Flashback

We see Brody's face, as he is lying in bed, with his eyes open.  We cut to a bearded and long haired Brody, in flashback, saying "Hello?"  He says, "Please answer", and pushes on his cell door, which opens, though a chain is attached to it.  Brody grabs the chain, and it comes off the door.  He appears to be free from his captivity.

We cut back to Brody lying in bed.  As the shot zooms out, we realize that Brody is not lying in bed, he is lying on the floor.  He seems surprised by this.  He stands up, looks at Jessica, and then leaves the room.  We cut to Carrie lying, on her couch, watching the surveillance.  Brody walks down the hall, and we return to the flashback of him escaping his cell, and walking down the hall of where he is being held.  He walks with a slight limp.  Toward the end of the hall of where Brody is being held, he is showered in sunlight, that is too bright for his eyes.  We then cut back to Brody walking down the hallway of his house.  He leaves the house, and we see that Carrie sees him walk into the garage.  We cut back to Brody, as he turns on the light of his garage.  We cut back to Carrie, and see that she gets angry at Virgil, again, for his lack of camera coverage in the Brody garage.

While in the garage, we see Brody move some stuff, sweep out an area of the floor, and he begins messing with what appears to be the mechanism for the garage door opener.  He goes over to a workspace, picks something up, and then presses a button.  He raises the garage door, slightly, with the opener, and sunlight peeks through the bottom of it.  We return to the flashback, and at the end of the hallway is a door.  As Brody opens the door, the sun is extraordinarily bright.  It is so bright that he can't go outside.  We hear faint Arabic prayer chanting, and Brody turns to his right.  He sees people engaging in morning prayer.  A lone man looks at Brody (my guess is that this man will probably become important, in Brody's captive life, later).  The worship continues, and Brody continues to stare into the room.  We then cut back to Brody, washing his hands, in the garage sink.  After washing his hands, Brody goes to the bag he brought into the garage, the night before.  He pulls out a maroon carpet, unfurls it, and begins to pray, in Arabic, facing the light coming in underneath the garage door.  Brody then lays his hands out face up, as if he is holding something.  He appears to be missing only one thing in his re-creation of his true "happy place".  Brody is a Muslim.

Brody walks back to the bedroom, and Jessica is still sleeping.  Jessica wakes up as Brody walks in and this exchange happens.

Jessica:  Couldn't sleep?
Brody:  I was cleaning out the garage.  (Brody turns the light switch on, in the bathroom) Oh, yeah, I fixed the door.  (Brody's peaceful, vacant look returns in full force)

Brody closes the door to the bathroom, and Jessica looks almost happy at his mood.  Through surveillance, we see Brody, wearing his uniform, approaching the front door.  Carrie sees him walk outside, and stand on his front porch, waiting for the press to come to him.  As everyone notices what is going on, they all scramble to his porch.  Here is what happens next.

Brody:  You people ready?

Reporters begin to ask questions, and Carrie gets on the phone with Saul, telling him to turn on his TV.  Here is what she says.

Carrie:  Saul, turn on your TV.  It's happening.  Exactly what you said.  He's out there playing the hero card.

Carrie looks both excited, and extremely sad, at the same time.  The end credits begin.

This is arguably the most important scene in the series, so far.  It is full of symbolism.  It's very difficult to tell what is real, and what is not.  Since returning home, Brody has basically been in prison.  The press is outside his house, every day, waiting for answers.  He has tried to adjust, but has been failing.  If you paid close attention to the scene in the mall, Brody was looking for floor covering.  He also was trying to fix the light switch, and the garage door opener.  In other words, all of the time he spent at the store was to buy stuff that would help him carve out a private space, for himself, in the house (the garage).  We realize there was nothing sinister about what he bought.

There is also tremendous religious symbolism in that flashback scene.  Brody is walking toward an extremely bright light.  Upon finally seeing this light up close, he hears Arabic prayers.  He looks to his right, and sees people worshiping.  This brings him comfort, though it is hard to see, at first.  He has "seen the light", as it were.  He fixes everything up in the garage, and we ultimately see him set up a place to pray, with the culmination being that he is praying in Arabic.  He is now a confirmed Muslim, even though there were a few clues along the way, to point us in that direction, to begin with.  Prayer is what has been missing, from his life, since his return home, and once he goes back to praying, the symbolism of his home prison is lifted.  This is because it is the only way he can find true peace with what he has done, and what he is going to do.  The light switch goes on (remember the peaceful, vacant expression, always shows up after a light switch type moment), and Brody is ready to play the hero card.  I'll take a second to do some wild speculation, that could be true.  In the above scene, Brody sees an extraordinarily bright light, and associates it with prayer.  I'm willing to take a stab and say that I believe darkness to light could be producing a Pavlov's dog type response in Brody.  The first time I noted the peaceful, vacant look on Brody's face, in this episode, was after Brody had been sitting in the dark, for an extremely long period of time.  Shortly after turning on the light switch, flooding him with bright light, Brody's expression became peaceful and vacant.  At the end of the episode, once Brody turns on the light, in the darkened bathroom, the peaceful, vacant look returns.  Is this a definitive reason, for Brody's disposition changes?  I don't know, but it's something I'm definitely willing to throw out there for you to think about.

As for the rest of the scene, Carrie thinks Brody is playing the hero card just because that is what he would do, if he were an actual terrorist.  We know, based on what we saw (that Carrie didn't), that he has come to a full peace, by using prayer.  He re-created something that made him feel comfortable, and now he is ready to face the world.  Carrie has now been misdirected, because the behavior is exactly what Saul said would happen if he really were a terrorist.  It sets a very interesting stage for the coming episodes.

Wow, that was another exhausting, extremely time consuming dissection.  It is going to take every bit of energy I have to do these things.  I can't see myself doing more than one of these per week, just due to the sheer length of time they take, and how drained I am after finishing them.  No matter what, I am only writing these through episode 7, because that is where the important plot twist, in the series, occurs.  Everything else can just be what it is.  My purpose, for these dissections, is to find out if the plot twist that happened at the end of episode 7 was even plausible.  I have no agenda.  I am just going where the story takes me, no matter what that happens to be.

With that said, I am now going to reveal the plot twist, that happened in episode 7, so that you can continue watching the show, as I am, with that plot twist always in mind.  If you have not seen that episode, DO NOT read further, unless you don't mind it being spoiled for you.  What I am about to write will spoil it for you.  You have been warned.  I will make a few extra spaces in the blog, so you don't accidentally have it on your page, while reading this sentence.  I will also make the type really small, so you have to exert effort to read what I write.  I will make another huge bold typed statement, below (similar to the one directly below this sentence), when it is okay to return to reading, again, without huge spoilers.


Corporal Tom Walker is alive.  Brody did not beat him to death.  This means there is now a 50/50 chance that Brody or Walker could have been the "turned" American POW Hasan told Carrie about.  If the plot twist is where the show is ultimately going, then we will have basically wasted nearly seven episodes developing the Brody as a bad guy premise.  If there is no longer overall plan, involving Brody, then we have no reason to understand why we have focused on him, so much up to that point.  After giving it a significant amount of thought, I have come to the conclusion that Walker is being used as nothing more than a decoy (almost a MacGuffin) to whatever larger plan/plot is going on.

Now that I have given you that spoiler, let's tie in what we saw, in this episode, knowing that Tom Walker is alive.  At the beginning of the episode, Brody is digging a grave for both Walker, and himself.  The "dead" Walker is dumped into the grave, and Brody, while singing "Marines' Hymn", has a gun pointed at his head.  It is intimated that Brody is going to be killed, as well.  Of course, we find out this was only a dream.  Since there is no chance anyone was killing Brody (he's still alive), we have no idea how much of his dream was real, and how much of it was made up.  Does he wish he could have been buried with Walker, as opposed to digging his grave?  That's impossible to know, at this point.  The main thing is that we have been provided no indisputable proof that Walker is dead, even though his eyes glazed up in his head, as if he were dead, at the end of the beating sequence.  We also have no idea what time period the beating took place over.  One thing is certain, though.  It happened early in Brody's captivity, because he does not have a beard.  That is, of course, if the beating even happened, at all.  In episode 8, we are shown Walker, and he has no evidence of scarring on his face.  If he was really beaten as badly as he appeared to be, in Brody's flashback, it seems there would be no way that his face wouldn't at least have some visible scarring.  After putting that idea in context with the dream, I am at least willing to entertain the idea that the beating never happened, at all.  It stands to reason that there would have also been tremendous scarring on Brody's hands, from such a beating.  There's so much going on, in the series, that I can't even remember how many times the beating is referred to.  It will definitely be interesting to see how this storyline develops, over the next five episodes.  I will now do a wrap up below the large bold type, about what we saw in episode 2.  You can scroll down for that now.


To wrap up, here are what I feel are the important storylines in episode 2.  I'll list them below, some may be slightly out of proper context order.

1.  Brody is having night terrors, and is suffering from severe PTSD, that has caused him to injure Jessica during his sleep.
2.  Saul gets Carrie a FISA warrant from a Judge that he has "in his pocket".
3.  Carrie is revealed to have an asset that is a professional girlfriend of Saudi Prince Farid Bin Abbud.
4.  Carrie's asset is the first asset to have seen Abu Nazir in seven years, and is asked to perform an operation to steal the data from Prince Farid's Blackberry.
5.  Captain Mike Faber is told by Estes and Major Foster that he needs to get Brody on board the propaganda boat they are creating around him.
6.  Brody punches a reporter in the throat, and disappears.
7.  There is extreme tension in the Brody love triangle of Brody, Jessica, and Mike.
8.  Carrie is warned by Saul to tread carefully with her newly obtained information, and to make sure all her ducks are in a row, before officially trying to link Brody to Abu Nazir.
9.  Brody shops for a laundry list of home improvement related stuff, or for something else.
10.  Mike tells Brody to get in gear, to do what the brass wants, and Brody responds that he doesn't want to prop up their bulls*** war.
11.  Jessica tries to convince Brody to play the hero card, and this drives Brody further away from her.
12.  We meet Carrie's sister, Maggie, who is supplying Carrie's Clozapine.
13.  There is a blind spot in Carrie's surveillance, due to budget constraints, and the blind spot is the garage.  Brody does something in the garage that Carrie can't see.  The thing Brody is doing that is unseen, by Carrie, is Brody engaging in early morning Muslim prayers, in Arabic.
14.  Brody meets the press.

It's amazing that I can even write down 14 storylines, for a single hour long episode of television.  This series is ridiculously layered, but it's not particularly convoluted.  However, there is still so much going on, that it is easy to get lost.  My final thoughts on the episode are these.  The plot twist of episode 7 can still make sense, based on what we saw in this episode.  What we are about to see from Brody may have nothing to do with whether he is a terrorist.  It is easy to make the case that his prayer session led him to being at peace with the decision to ultimately come out of the shell he has been living in.  This was another exposition heavy episode, but with the big reveals that happened at the end (Brody's a Muslim, and Brody meets the press), the story will now begin moving forward, in a big way, in the next episode.  To me, the blind spot is very important, as it hides important clues that could guide Carrie's surveillance investigation.  As Saul said, the dots are there, but we haven't connected them, yet.  Pretty soon, we should be able to begin connecting the dots of different theories.  In this dissection, I tried to break everything down as best I could.  I hope it wasn't too confusing to read, and I hope you got something out of it.  If you made it this far, I applaud you.  Thanks for reading.
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